The US government came a step closer to a feared shutdown of its operations as the US House of Representatives passed Friday a short-term budget bill that would also defund President Barack Obama's signature health care law, dpa reported.
The measure that would fund the government in the 2014 fiscal year from October 1 to December 15 passed the lower chamber 230-189.
Majority Republicans however had tied the spending measure to stripping of funds from Obama's health care law, setting up a showdown with the Democratic-controlled Senate. Many of the health care law's major provisions are also due to go into effect October 1.
Obama has vowed to veto the measure if it were to pass as written.
If the upper and lower chamber cannot come to agreement on a budget measure by October 1, the government would run out of money to operate, forcing a damaging shutdown of most of its operations.
After the vote, Republicans called on senators to follow their lead and claimed the health care law would damage US business and hurt families.
"The American people don't want the government to shutdown and they don't want Obamacare," Speaker of the House John Boehner said.
The Senate is expected to remove the health care measures from the bill, which would then be sent back to the House, where lawmakers would face the quandary of either allowing the government to shutdown or paying for the health care law.
"Republicans are simply postponing for a few days the inevitable choice they must face: pass a clean bill to fund the government, or force a shutdown," Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement. "I have said it before but it seems to bear repeating: the Senate will not pass any bill that defunds or delays Obamacare."
To avert a government shutdown Congress has had to pass a series of short-term measures because it has not yet passed a year-long budget. The threat of shutdown loomed several times in recent years before Congress came to last-minute agreements.
Republicans will also face a showdown in coming weeks with Obama and his Democrats over the raising of the US debt ceiling by mid-October, with Republicans seeking further spending cuts before agreeing to up the limit.
Previous standoffs over both the budget and the debt ceiling have wrecked havoc on markets and introduced added uncertainty into the US economy. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned this week of serious consequences if no deal is reached.
Original headline: US government nears shutdown after controversial House vote
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