The Rules Committee voted along party lines Saturday evening to send healthcare amendments to the House floor that all but guarantee a government shutdown.
The panel set the stage for a late-night vote on amendments delaying the healthcare reform law by a year and eliminating its medical device tax, which the White House says it will reject. The panel also voted on a separate bill that would ensure U.S. troops still get paid in case of a shutdown.
"This is all an effort to avoid a government shutdown," said Rules Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas).
Democrats said it was "neither the time nor the place" to relitigate healthcare reform law just two days before the spending bill funding the government runs out.
The top Democratic House appropriator urged Republicans to “stop this madness” and pass a clean spending bill or face an inevitable government shutdown.
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) decried “another unworkable Republican bill that pushes us closer” to a government shutdown.
“This is neither the time nor the place to relitigate healthcare reform,” said Lowey, saying the amendments “border on the ridiculous.”
If Republicans wanted to avoid a shutdown, Lowey said, they wouldn't put up a bill to “avert one of the most politically damaging result.”
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said Obama is all but certain to veto the bill.
"That a red line?" quipped Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), a reference to Obama's widely derided promise to respond if Syria used chemical weapons.
And the top Democrat on the panel, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), asked that the cost of repealing the medical device tax be entered into the record. A 2012 estimate by the Joint Committee on Taxation said the tax would bring in $29.1 bilion over 10 years.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) used the Rules hearing to attack the law, saying it is shortening the lives of patients and forcing doctors to leave medicine. Most Republicans remained silent, however, saying they will have time to make their arguments when the House brings up the bill and the amendments on the floor.