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House GOP Proposes One-Year Delay To Obamacare

Members of the media wait outside a room in the basement of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, where House Republicans met in a closed session.

Speaker of the House John Boehner arrives at the Capitol on Saturday.

Speaker of the House John Boehner arrives at the Capitol on Saturday.

House Republicans have settled on a plan to amend the government funding bill.

That plan includes both a one-year delay in implementing Obamacare and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's medical devices tax.

Republicans exiting their closed-door meeting Saturday said they were united behind this strategy.

"I think conservatives are winning," said Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas. "Stop Obamacare and not stop the government is what we're hearing from folks at home, so I think leadership's listened."

Republicans insist their proposal doesn't have to lead to a government shutdown, and could even get some Democratic support in the Senate.

That is unlikely. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state weighed in promptly after the proposal was announced:

"By pandering to the Tea Party minority and trying to delay the benefits of health care reform for millions of seniors and families, House Republicans are now actively pushing for a completely unnecessary government shutdown."

A vote was expected Saturday evening.

The White House said President Obama would veto the House measure, on the unlikely chance it made it through the Senate.

And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., released a statement rejecting the House plan as "pointless."

"To be absolutely clear, the Senate will reject both the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the medical device tax. After weeks of futile political games from Republicans, we are still at square one: Republicans must decide whether to pass the Senate's clean CR, or force a Republican government shutdown."

Reid also echoed a Friday statement by Obama about a willingness to discuss changes to the health care law -- but not under the pressure of a government shutdown or default.

"Senate Democrats have shown that we are willing to debate and vote on a wide range of issues, including efforts to improve the Affordable Care Act. We continue to be willing to debate these issues in a calm and rational atmosphere. But the American people will not be extorted by Tea Party anarchists."

Our Original Post:

All eyes are on a pair of closed wooden doors in the basement of the Capitol. Behind those doors, in room HC-5, House Republicans are plotting their next move in the ongoing shutdown showdown.

On Friday, the Senate approved a short-term spending bill aimed at avoiding a government shutdown. What it didn't do was defund the Affordable Care Act.

That's what a handful of Senate Republicans and a larger contingent of House Republicans have been demanding in exchange for keeping the government funded.

It's now the House's move, as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted Friday:

House Republicans say they intend to attach something to the spending bill and send it back to the Senate. Just what to attach is what's being discussed behind those closed doors.

Possibilities include a one-year delay of the Obamacare individual mandate or a repeal of the medical devices tax that's part of the law.

The key for House Speaker John Boehner is coming up with a plan that can get near unanimous support from his conference. That's because he won't be getting any votes from House Democrats.

And if one of these Obamacare-related add-ons passes, it will run into a buzz saw in the Democratically controlled Senate. At least, that was the warning Friday from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Adam Jentleson is Reid's spokesman):

The countdown to shutdown is on. If there's no agreement, the shutdown starts Tuesday.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

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