Congress moved the nation closer to a government shutdown on Tuesday as House Republicans voted early Sunday 231-192 to advance a stopgap spending measure to delay implementation of President Obama's health care law -- the one that is essentially identical to failed GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney's plan in Massachusetts -- for one year.
The House voted just past midnight to send the bill back to the Senate following a day of vigorous debate over the Affordable Care Act, which begins open enrollment on Oct. 1.
As House members began to leave the floor, Politico reporter Ginger Gibson tweeted, "I'm not over exaggerating when I say I can smell the booze wafting from members as they walk off the floor."
In addition to delaying implementation of the health care law, the amendment would weaken its requirement that insurance policies fully cover contraception and would instead allow businesses to decide whether to offer birth-control coverage to their employees.
The measure already drawing fire from birth-control advocates, such as Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, who called it “a remarkably desperate, misguided and extreme attack on women’s health.”
The House also voted 248-174 to repeal a 2.3% tax on medical devices enacted to help pay for implementation of the law.
The House then voted unanimously on a separate measure to ensure that the U.S. military continues to get paid if the government shuts down. Because no annual spending bills have been enacted, a shutdown would stop the flow of paychecks to troops.
Members of Congress, however, would continue to be paid if a shutdown occurs.