US government heads toward shutdown, Senate rebuffs House talks

US government heads toward shutdown, Senate rebuffs House talks
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

WASHINGTON - The US government was headed toward a major shutdown over Republican efforts to halt President Barack Obama's healthcare reforms using a temporary spending bill as last minute maneuvers failed to resolve deep differences between Democrats and Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the House Republican offer of a panel to work out a deal on an emergency spending bill negotiation "with a gun to our head."

Reid instead called on the House to pass a Senate-approved measure that would keep the government funded through Nov. 15.

With so little time remaining before a midnight (0400 GMT) deadline, a shutdown appeared inevitable. It would leave some essential functions like national security intact but sharply cut many regulatory agencies, furlough up to a million federal workers.

Earlier on Monday, competing spending measures flew back and forth between the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Democratic-led Senate with increasing rapidity and without any sign of compromise.

The House repeatedly insisted that the measure to temporarily fund the government must include a delay of Obamacare, and the Senate kept stripping the delay out.

An anticipated revolt by moderate House Republicans fizzled earlier on Monday after House Speaker John Boehner made personal appeals to many of them to back him on a key procedural vote, said Republican Representative Peter King of New York. "John said, 'This is going to work out. Trust me,'" said King, one of only a handful of at least two dozen House Republican moderates who rejected the appeal and voted "no."

Boehner prevailed on the procedural vote 225-204.

After Boehner made his personal appeal, House Democratic Whip Steyn Toyer called on him to permit a vote on a simple extension of federal funding of the government without any Obamacare add-on.

"I dare you to do that," Toyer roared, confident such a measure would win bipartisan approval. "Let democracy work."

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