House moves a step closer to passing GOP spending plan

The House on Saturday night approved a rule that governs debate and votes on a Republican plan to fund the government. 

The GOP plan also delays ObamaCare for a year and eliminate ObamaCare's medical device tax.

Members voted 231-191 in favor of the rule, which sets out several steps for considering the continuing resolution and the two Republican amendments. Two Democrats voted with Republicans in favor of the rule.

The rule calls for an hour of debate on a motion to accept the Senate-passed spending bill along with the two amendments. One amendment delays ObamaCare for a year, the other eliminates the 2.3 percent medical device tax that was imposed under ObamaCare.

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After the debate, members will vote on the two amendments. Assuming they both pass, the House will not have to hold a final vote on resolution again — instead, it will have been passed and sent back to the Senate by virtue of passing the two amendments.

The rule also calls for 40 minutes of debate — and a separate vote — on H.R. 3210. That bill would ensure continued funding for the military and related civilian personnel and contractors in the event of a government shutdown.

Debate on the rule grew testy as Republicans continued to cast their amendments as language that would help avoid a government shutdown, while Democrats said it would do exactly the opposite.

"The legislation before us today will ensure that a shutdown does not happen," said House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas).

Several Democrats reiterated that Sessions is wrong because the Senate won't have time to consider the House changes before the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

"Let me be clear: A vote for this rule and a vote for this bill are affirmative votes for a government shutdown, because everyone knows there will be no adequate time for any more ping-ponging," Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said.

Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) drew loud boos from Republicans on the floor when he charged Republicans were shutting down the government after speaking beyond his allotted time. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) also drew grumbles from the GOP after claiming repeatedly that Republicans were shutting down the government.

Just before the vote, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the entire Republican conference into a brief meeting in the Capitol basement to explain why it took so long to get the amendments and the bill to the House floor.

Members leaving the conclave said he told them that after discussions between the parliamentarians of the two chambers, the Senate would only have to vote once on the new package, rather than on each amendment separately, as they originally believed. That should make it easier for the Senate to reject both amendments — initially, Republicans were hoping for separate votes in the hopes that the Senate would have to keep the medical device tax language intact.

Boehner did not discuss what the House would do if the Senate rejected the amended spending bill, as Democratic leaders have vowed to do.

"We're going to wait to see what they do," Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) said after the meeting.