The House on Monday night advanced their latest short-term spending bill, but saw six Republicans vote against it as the hours ticked down to a possible government shutdown.
Members voted 225-204 to approve a rule governing a debate and vote on the continuing resolution. That's a little closer than most rule votes, which usually win the support of every Republican.
Republicans voting against the rule represented a mix of members who want tougher language on ObamaCare, and members who have indicated it's time to pass a clean spending resolution. They are Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Paul Broun (Ga.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Peter King (N.Y.) and Steve King (Iowa.).
Bachmann said after the vote that the GOP had been united throughout the spending fight, but fractured "once Speaker Boehner chose to lower the bar" in the effort to derail ObamaCare.
"We're looking long term, we're not looking short term," she said of the opponents.
Just before the vote, signs were emerging that some centrist Republicans, including Peter King and Dent, would vote against the rule, in a call to pass a "clean" continuing spending resolution without any ObamaCare language. Other Republicans indicated they might vote against it because it's clear the Senate will not negotiate on any ObamaCare language.
That grumbling makes it possible that more Republicans might vote against the resolution itself later this evening.
The vote allowed the House to immediately move to a debate on the resolution with a little less than five hours left before a partial government shutdown. Assuming the House passes the bill sometime before 9 p.m., that would send it to the Senate, which is again expected to quickly reject the language.
That would leave the House and Senate with no clear way forward with just a few hours before midnight, putting pressure on both chambers to pass something to avoid a shutdown.
The vote on the rule followed a debate in which Democrats charged Republicans with obsessing over ObamaCare, and in which Republicans said ObamaCare needs to be pared back because it's destroying jobs.
"It's time for our Republican friends to put on their grownup pants and do the right thing," said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who called on the GOP to pass a clean bill.
House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) accused Republicans of bowing to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
"Senator Cruz is running the show on the floor of this House," Van Hollen said. "Why don't you just quicken it up and pass Senator Cruz the gavel and let him run the House?"
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Republicans have chosen to "bay at the moon" rather than simply fund the government.
Republicans insisted that it's only fair to delay the individual mandate, since the Obama administration has delayed the employer mandate for companies. Several Republicans said Democrats were refusing to acknowledge the economic pain and confusion that ObamaCare has created.
"It was less about coverage and more about a hammer from Washington D.C.," said Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas).
Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) said Democrats are likely aware of the news that many big companies are dropping their health coverage in response to ObamaCare, even if they choose not to admit it.
"You have to be seeing the same headlines I'm seeing," Woodall said. "Delta Airlines dropping employees, Home Depot dropping employees, UPS dropping employees.
"You have to be seeing that and it has to hurt you in the same way it hurts me."
— Mike Lillis contributed