Stalemate as shutdown nears

Greg Nash

The House and Senate continued their game of ping-pong late Monday as the federal government lurched toward a shutdown. 

The House passed yet another proposal to fund the government and undermine ObamaCare, but it was just as quickly rejected by the Senate. 

Shortly after that, the House asked the Senate to convene a conference committee on a possible funding measure.

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House members passed the Republicans' latest continuing resolution in a 228-201 vote, with 12 Republicans voting no and nine Democrats voting yes. 

Just more than an hour later, the Senate rejected the measure in a 54-46 vote by tabling it. The vote only required a majority vote.

Every Democrat in the Senate voted to table, while upper chamber Republicans backed the measure. 

The latest GOP plan would fund the government through mid-December, delay the individual mandate under ObamaCare, and force top government officials to use ObamaCare. The government is set to shutdown after midnight. 

The earlier House vote carried some signs that House GOP leaders may be running out of ideas for passing a spending resolution that somehow tweaks ObamaCare. 

Earlier iterations of the House resolution passed with either two, one or zero "no" votes from Republicans, but a full dozen House Republicans voted no this time.

Some Republicans decided to oppose the latest measure because it didn't do enough to undermine ObamaCare, while others decided it's time to ignore the healthcare law and pass the clean resolution supported by the Senate in order to keep the government open on Tuesday.

Republicans voting against it were Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Joe Barton (Texas), Paul Broun (Ga.), Mario Diaz Balart (Fla.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Phil Gingrey (Ga.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Kay Granger (Texas), Peter King (N.Y.), Steve King (Iowa.), Tom Massie (Ky.) and Mike Rogers (Ala.).

Massie (Ky.) said the Republican offers were moving in the wrong direction, especially given that the Senate keeps stripping out the House’s anti-ObamaCare measures. “I’m concerned that a clean CR is the ultimate result of this negotiating strategy,” Massie told reporters.

House Republicans were expected to meet at 11 p.m. to figure out their next step.

"The Senate is going to have to explain how they defend special treatment for members of Congress, special treatment for big business and special interests," Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said after the House vote. "This what's at stake here. This is about no special treatment under the law. This is what Harry Reid is going to have to answer to. So we look forward to what the Senate is going to go."

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) refused to answer questions from reporters after the vote.

The latest House GOP bill was developed after the Senate killed a House plan to delay all of ObamaCare for a year and repeal the law's medical device tax. As they turned to the idea of repealing the individual mandate, Republicans said the Obama administration itself has delayed so much of the law, and that it's unfair for it to insist that the individual insurance mandate must take effect for average Americans.

"This is an issue of fairness," said Boehner, who spoke twice on the floor. "How can we give waivers and breaks to all the big union guys out there, how do we give a break to all the big businesses out there, and yet stick our constituents with a bill that they don't want and a bill they can't afford?"

Boehner said he and President Obama spoke by phone tonight, and that Obama told him, "I'm not going to negotiate. I'm not going to negotiate, I'm not going to do this."

"Well, I would say to the president, this is not about me, and it's not about Republicans here in Congress," Boehner said. "It's about fairness to the American people."

Democrats continued to argue that the GOP plan is doing nothing more than risking a government shutdown, since the Senate and Obama have said they will only accept a clean extension of spending.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said today's series of vote represent a "shameful" day in the House, and asked the GOP to allow a vote on a clean spending resolution.

"[Let] the Republican Party have the courage of its rhetoric and let the House work its will," Hoyer said. "I dare you to do that. Let Democracy work."

Cantor replied that the essence of Democracy is that laws treat everyone equally, something he said the Obama administration has failed to ensure.

"There should be no special treatment for big business. There should be no special treatment for members of Congress," Cantor said.

"There should be no special treatment for anyone under the law."

This story was updated at 10:30 p.m.

Russell Berman and Bernie Becker contributed to this story.