Government Shutdown: Senate Vote Leaves Congress At Square 1

Senate Vote Leaves Congress Back At Square 1 As Shutdown Looms

WASHINGTON -- The House and Senate played ping-pong with funding for the federal government Monday night, hours before cash for much of Uncle Sam's operations was due to run out.

The GOP-led House passed its third measure that would keep government open after midnight, but only if Senate Democrats and the president agree to hamstring Obamacare.

The Senate promptly took up the bill and voted to table it, 54 to 46. The action also stripped out anti-Obamacare provisions that Democrats and President Barack Obama found objectionable.

Before doing so, House Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declared the House was insane for repeatedly targeting Obamacare in a government funding bill, when there's no chance Democrats would help them gut Obama's signature health care law.

"Albert Einstein said when defining insanity as follows, quote, 'Doing the same thing over and over again and thinking you're going to get a different result,'" Reid said. "Einstein was a genius, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the proof is watching the House Republicans, because they've lost their minds."

House Speaker John Boehner's latest proposal to fund the government would have chipped away at Obamacare by delaying the individual mandate and barring the federal government from contributing to the health insurance of the president, lawmakers and staffers.

"My Republican colleagues and I thought we should defund the law. We thought we should delay for a year," Boehner (R-Ohio), said of his first two failed attempts. "Our friends in the Senate don't seem to want to go down that path."

Boehner insisted his third dead version was "an issue of fairness" because businesses have gotten a year reprieve, and numerous waivers to parts of the bill have been granted.

"How can we give waivers and breaks to all the big union guys out there? How do we give breaks to all the big businesses out there, and yet stick our constituents with a bill they don't want and a bill they can't afford?" Boehner said.

Obama has steadfastly maintained that he will not negotiate over funding the government or paying the nation's debt when the country reaches its borrowing limit next month.

Boehner mocked him for it. "I talked to the president earlier tonight. 'I'm not gonna negotiate, I'm not gonna negotiate, I'm not gonna do this,'" Boehner quoted Obama as saying in a derisive imitation.

The only way to keep the government open with just a few hours left would be for the House to rush through the Senate's bill. If no changes were made, the government would keep operating.

House leaders were meeting to decide what to do.

This article has been updated with the latest Senate and House votes.

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