Shutdown looms as House sends bill back to Senate

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2013 - A possible shutdown of the federal government moved closer to reality early Sunday morning as the House sent legislation

 (H.J.Res.59) back to the Senate, containing a one-year delay of implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

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The House voted 231-192, mostly along party lines, to delay Obamacare as part of the funding bill. Two Democrats, Reps. Mike McIntyre, N.C., and Jim Matheson, Utah, voted in favor of the delay, while two New York Republicans, Rep. Richard Hannah, N.Y., and Chris Gibson, opposed any delay in launching the Affordable Care Act on Oct. 2. 

In addition, the House voted to eliminate a tax on medical devices on a 248-174 vote, with 17 Democrats joining the GOP on passage.

The House also approved legislation to ensure military personnel are paid regardless of a government shutdown, with 423 Republicans and Democrats voting in favor of the measure and 8 not voting.

The high-stakes move comes just 48 hours before funding for the federal government will expire on Oct. 1. Any change to Obamacare is a non-starter in the Senate, which is set to reconvene on Monday. Previously, the House sought to defund the health care law as part of the continuing resolution - a move that was already rejected by the Senate.

The White House threatened a veto and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said described the early morning vote as “pointless.”

"To be absolutely clear, the Senate will reject both the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the medical device tax. After weeks of futile political games from Republicans, we are still at square one: Republicans must decide whether to pass the Senate's clean CR, or force a Republican government shutdown,” said Reid in a statement.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-VA, released his own statement, advocating for Senate approval in order to keep the government open.

“House Republicans voted tonight to keep the government open and give working middle class Americans the same one-year delay from ObamaCare that the President has already unilaterally given big businesses and special interest groups,” Cantor noted.

“The House also voted to repeal the medical device tax which ships jobs overseas and increases health care costs. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has labeled the tax ‘stupid' and 79 Senators, led by Democrats Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, voted to repeal it in March. Democrats have often joined Republicans against this tax and in favor of delaying Obamacare.”

The House spending bill would fund federal departments, such as USDA and FDA, at FY 2013 levels, until mid-December. The Senate bill had set the deadline at Nov. 15.

While a shutdown would not directly affect the core mission of USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) as inspectors would remain on the job, the workload within other FSIS support functions, such as administrative appeals and labeling, could be impacted. Enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program would stop. In addition, a shutdown could halt funding for export promotion, including the Foreign Agricultural Service's Foreign Market Development Program and the Market Access Program.

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