Washington (AFP) – The Senate on Monday swiftly rejected a House measure to delay the health care law as part of a federal funding bill, pushing the government ever-closer to a shutdown.
Congress now has less than 10 hours to resolve a bitter impasse over a temporary spending bill before many federal agencies shut their doors, forcing hundreds of thousands of federal employees to stay home.
The Senate voted down the House measure 54 to 46, dividing along party lines with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowing no compromise with the Republican-controlled lower house.
“We are not changing Obamacare,” Reid said. “I have a very simple message to John Boehner: Let the House vote. Stop trying to force a government shutdown.”
Lawmakers have until midnight to pass a stopgap budget measure, otherwise the government will shut down in what is expected to be a blow for the U.S. economy.
Obama has warned a freeze in non-essential federal spending could have catastrophic effects on the shaky economic recovery, and cost thousands of jobs.
(This article will continue to be updated.)