The House late Saturday voted to fund the government through mid-December, but also delay Obamacare for a year and do away with that law's tax on medical devices.
But that legislation awaits almost certain defeat in the Senate, making a government shutdown at the end of Monday seem all but inevitable. With that in mind, NBC News presents a guide to how Congress may proceed ...
What’s the Senate likely to do with the House-passed amendments to the spending bill?
Ahead of Saturday's vote, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., declared: "To be absolutely clear, the Senate will reject both the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the medical device tax.”
Still, it is up to Reid to decide when the Senate will take action on votes from the House. As of now, the Senate was not scheduled to convene until Monday, giving senators precious few hours before funding for government operations runs out at midnight.
It's also unclear whether Republican senators — like Ted Cruz of Texas, for instance — will use Senate procedures to try to stop Reid from bringing the House-passed amendments up for a vote and killing them.
What if the Senate does vote to kill those House amendments?
If the Senate were to kill the House-passed provisions, then the game of legislative ping-pong would essentially continue, with the House once again facing a Senate spending bill that most Republicans object to because it does not contain anti-Obamacare provisions.
As of Saturday evening, it appeared that no negotiations were underway between Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Reid on finding a way to design and pass a spending bill thatboth sides could accept.
Once the Senate rejects the House-passed amendments, is there anything that might avert a partial government shutdown?
One possible — but highly unlikely — scenario would see Reid reverse his position and agree to accept a bill including a repeal of the medical device tax, which might be enough to satisfy House Republicans.
Or Boehner could try to pass the spending bill sent to him by the Senate on Friday, which continues funding for implementation of Obamacare, and maintains spending at existing levels through mid-November. Boehner would have to allow the “clean” (unamended) Senate spending bill to come to a floor vote, and some Republicans would need to join with Democrats in passing it.
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said on his Twitter account Saturday afternoon said, “If Speaker Boehner put the Senate bill on the House floor we could debate, pass (w/ a bunchof D votes), and keep the G(overnment) open. Why not?"
But that would risk infuriating rank-and-file House conservatives.
Is Monday an absolute drop-dead date after which no compromise is possible?
No, it isn't. But with both the feelings and the rhetoric already very sour, if some government operations did in fact stop on Tuesday, then the acrimony between GOP and Democraticleaders would likely get worse and an accord would even harder to achieve.
Is there any area of possible agreement between the Republicans and the Democrats on this spending standoff?
There’s one possible area of agreement: The Senate might accept a separate bill which the House OK’d Saturday night that would ensure that members of the Armed Forces get paid even if there is a partial government shutdown.
That bill also ensures that civilian Defense Department personnel, Department of Homeland Security personnel, and outside military contractors whose jobs involve support ofactive-duty military members would also get paid as they normally do.
If a partial federal government shutdown begins on Tuesday how long will it last?
That’s anyone’s guess at this point.
According to the Congressional Research Service, since 1977 there have been 17 “funding lapses” – periods where there were no spending bills enacted to keep government operations running. Most of those gaps lasted only a day or a few days. The most recent funding gap was in 1995-1996 and lasted 21 days.
The length of the partial shutdown this time would depend on the ability of congressional leaders to come up with a stopgap spending bill that could win enough votes to passboth houses. So far they haven’t been able to do that.
First published September 28 2013, 9:46 PM