Reid, Heller on opposite sides of federal spending bill

WASHINGTON — With the federal government teetering on the brink of shutdown, the Senate passed a spending bill last week that would keep federal workers on the job through Nov. 15.

The House on Saturday voted to avert a government shutdown but delay Obamacare for a year..

The Senate bill was approved 54-44 along party lines.

A partial government shutdown could begin at midnight Monday, when the fiscal year ends, threatening to idle hundreds of thousands of federal workers and close “nonessential services” such as parks, passport processing and handling for new applications to Medicare and Social Security.

Senate Republicans opposed the stopgap measure because it continues funding for the Affordable Care Act. House Republicans have insisted on including a “Defund Obamacare” provision in any legislation to keep the government operating.

The health care law that is being rolled out in stages would expand health coverage to 25 million people over the next 10 years, about half the population of uninsured. It also upgrades coverage for many procedures and contains other consumer protections.

Republicans, who have never supported the law and have tried insistently to kill it or ramp it back, say it will raise costs for families and businesses, and harm the economy.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, urged Senate Democrats to accept the House GOP plan to defund Obamacare.

“Do you really want to be responsible for killing more jobs?” he asked. “This is a second chance, and in life you don’t get many second chances.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., accused Republicans of wasting time and grandstanding over an issue that has been law for four years.

“The Republican Party has been infected by a small but destructive faction that would rather tear down the house our founders built than govern from it. These extremists are more interested in putting on a show… than in legislating,” Reid said.

Reid voted for the spending bill. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., voted against it.

Most other House and Senate business took a backseat during the week as lawmakers positioned themselves in the fight over health care and government spending.