Senate votes to kill Republican request for talks to end shutdown
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Democratic-led Senate on Tuesday voted to kill Republicans' latest attempts to modify an emergency government funding bill, just hours after federal agencies and national parks began shutting down.
The Senate voted on 54-46 along strict party lines to strip the proposed amendments from the spending bill, sending a "clean" measure back to the House of Representatives that would extend funding for government agencies until November 15.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed the request to appoint negotiators as a last-ditch effort to avoid a shutdown that began as a midnight deadline expired.
The amendments pushed by House Speaker John Boehner also had maintained previous attempts by Republicans to modify President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law. These included a one-year delay of a mandate for individuals to acquire coverage and a requirement that members of Congress, their staffs, and executive branch appointees acquire healthcare coverage through new insurance exchanges that started operating on Tuesday, but without any government subsidies.
Obama and his fellow Democrats have rejected any Republican efforts to use the funding impasse as leverage to change the law known as Obamacare.
After the Senate vote, there was no sign of any moves from either party toward compromise, and lawmakers simply blamed each other for the shutdown.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the shutdown made Tuesday "a good day for anarchists" in the House of Representatives.
"Speaker Boehner and his band of Tea Party radicals, they have done the unthinkable. They have shut down the federal government," Reid said on the Senate floor. "For us, that's hard to comprehend as being good. For them, they like it."
Senator Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, said Democrats caused the shutdown.
"They've now said they won't even agree to sit down and work out our differences. They won't even talk about it. They literally just voted against working out a compromise," McConnell said on the Senate floor.