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The Looming Shutdown: Senate Rejects Second House Measure

Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, arrives for a Republican Conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol on Friday in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla
Getty Images
Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, arrives for a Republican Conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol on Friday in Washington, D.C.

Not even an hour after the House voted in favor of a bill that would avert a shutdown of the federal government, but also delay a key part of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, the Senate rejected it with a vote of 54-46.

With less than an hour before the government runs out of authority to spend money, the ball is now back in the court of Speaker John Boehner in the House.

It's a game of legislative tennis that's been going on for days. On Monday afternoon, the Senate rejected a continuing resolution that delayed the implementation of Obamacare, so the House hit back with a resolution that strips the law of its individual mandate and the subsidies given to members of Congress and their staff. The Senate voted quickly to table that measure, leaving the country on the verge of its first government shutdown in nearly two decades.

If you haven't kept up, here's where we are: The Republican-controlled House wants to stop the implementation of Obamacare, so they're adding language to the bill that funds government operations to do just that. For example, in one iteration, the language would have delayed the implementation of the healthcare law for a year; in a previous iteration, the House had stripped funding for the healthcare law.

The Democratically-controlled Senate has said they will not negotiate, so they've asked for a so-called "clean continuing resolution." That is, a resolution that funds the government, but has no added language about Obamacare.

Of course, if the Senate and House can't agree to something by midnight, the government will not be authorized to spend any more money, and a good deal of the federal government — like museums, tax audits, loan processing by the Federal Housing Administration and federal occupational health and safety inspections — will go dark.

As you can imagine, these final hours in Congress will be filled with high-stakes drama. We'll keep this post updated with the latest, so hit the refresh button often.

Update at 11:54 p.m. Budget Office Orders Agencies To Begin Shutdown:

With no deal reached, Office of Management and Budget director Sylvia Burwell sent a memo ordering agencies to begin execute plans for an orderly shutdown.

Update at 10:38 p.m. ET. President Signs Bill On Military Pay:

President Obama has signed a legislation that will ensure military will get paid in the event of a government shutdown.

Update at 9:30 p.m. ET. Senate Tables House Bill:

The Senate has voted to kill the House bill, which means we are now where we started and much closer to the first government shutdown in nearly two decades.

Update at 9:09 p.m. ET. Senate Voting:

The Senate is now voting on whether to table — essentially killing — the House version of the continuing resolution.

Update at 9:01 p.m. ET. Another Resolution:

Working into the night, the House voted 228-201 to pass another bill that would avert a shutdown of the federal government, but also delay a key part of President Obama's signature law, the Affordable Care Act.

Now, the Senate takes up the bill and Reid has warned that they are not negotiating. They will likely strip the CR of the language on Obamacare and send it back to the House.

Update At 7:15 p.m. ET. Tea Party Caucus Member Says He Doesn't Want To Shutdown Government

Tennessee Republican Rep. Phil Roe, a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, tells All Things Considered: "I haven't heard anybody on our side of the aisle say 'I got elected to shut the government down.'"

"Look, you have to have two willing parties to have a discussion," he tells ATC host Melissa Block. "We've sent various things over and they've sent them back. We can go to a conference and work those out or we can go ahead and keep playing Ping-Pong, which is what we're doing now."

Update at 7:06 p.m. ET. Obama Speaks To Leaders:

President Obama phoned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, this evening to talk about the shutdown.

The important call was to Boehner. But ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports:

"The phone call between @BarackObama and @SpeakerBoehner lasted ten minutes. Source says it was 'a reaffirmation of both sides position'"

Update At 5:50 p.m. ET. President Meets With Cabinet On Potential Shutdown

Shortly after his statement to reporters, the president held a meeting with his Cabinet.

"[We're] going to be discussing the impacts, potentially, of a shutdown and how all of these various agencies will be managing to make sure the core essential functions continue, but also, obviously, to help try to manage what's going to be a very difficult potential situation for the employees of all of these agencies, who are doing outstanding and very difficult work all across the country," he said.

Update At 5:15 p.m. ET. Obama: Don't 'Throw A Wrench' Into Economy

President Obama, in an afternoon statement before White House reporters, warned that a shutdown would "throw a wrench into our economy at a time when it has finally shown some traction."

"A shutdown will have a very real economic impact on real people, right away," the president said.

Although federal workers will be furloughed, "What, of course, will not be furloughed are the bills that they have to pay — their mortgages, their tuition payments, their car notes," he said.

"Let me repeat this: It does not have to happen," Obama said. "All of this is entirely preventable if the House chooses to do what the Senate has already done — and that's the simple act of funding our government without making extraneous and controversial demands in the process, the same way other Congresses have for more than 200 years."

Update at 3:25 p.m. ET. Another Go:

After a meeting of its leadership, the House Republicans will give it a go one more time. Politico reports that they will likely pass and send to the Senate a bill that strips Obamacare of the individual mandate for one year and also gets rid of the healthcare subsidies given to members of Congress and their staff.

The individual mandate, which compels all Americans to buy health insurance or face a penalty, is seen as central to the law, so it's likely the Senate will reject this bill as well.

"I think it's a wise bet. I think this is a viable path," Rep. Scott Rigell, a Republican from Virginia, told CNN after the leadership meeting.

Rigell said this was a "reasonable" measure and that his caucus had made concessions, but the Senate had refused to negotiate.

"I believe we ought to fight for what we believe in," Rigell said, adding that he wasn't ready to wave a white-flag of surrender.

Update at 3:17 p.m. ET. Using Email Is Illegal:

If the government shuts down, furloughed federal employees will not be able to check email.

No, really: The Washington Post reports some will have to hand over their mobile devices and for those who keep them, checking email would be illegal. The paper reports:

"Federal employees who do check their inboxes will technically be breaking an obscure law known as the Antideficiency Act, which was passed over a hundred years ago and carries a penalty of fines or even imprisonment."

Update at 2:56 p.m. ET. Not Going To Be Bullied:

"The fate of the country depends on the House," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said during a news conference minutes ago, in which he reiterated that the Senate would not negotiate and will not accept anything other than a clean continuing resolution.

"With a bully, you cannot let them slap you around. We are not going to be bullied," Reid said.

Update at 2:47 p.m. ET. The House GOP Huddles:

Politico reports that Republican leaders in the House are meeting to weigh their options, now that the Senate has, as expected, rejected their bill.

The politics site reports that a few options are on the table: One of them would cobble up Republican and Democratic votes in the House to pass a clean continuing resolution. This is the option most likely to avert a shutdown.

The others don't take on the entire Affordable Care Act, just parts of it. One option would repeal "Medicare's Independent Payment Advisory Board and the medical device tax" and the other would "attach a one-year repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.