The U.S. Senate is scheduled to meet on Monday afternoon, allowing itself just hours to reach a compromise with the House of Representatives on a spending bill before a midnight deadline for a partial shutdown of the U.S. government.
Republican lawmakers are insisting that any measure either delay or defund President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, intended to provide coverage for millions of uninsured Americans.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised that a spending bill passed by the House in the early hours of Saturday morning, which would delay key parts of the Affordable Healthcare Act, known as Obamacare, for one year, will not be approved.
The measure has highlighted the deep divisions between Republican and Democratic politicians.
Democrats say Obamacare has been duly passed and is now the law of the land. It gives low income individuals and people without health insurance the chance to buy a low-cost, federally subsidized policy so that families will not face financial ruin in the event of a serious illness.
Republicans say the program is confusing and not ready. They also say that the law hurts the economy by imposing more taxes and by forcing small businesses to provide coverage for their employees.
Obama has said he will not let the law be gutted.
If nothing is passed by both houses of Congress by midnight Monday, all but the most essential government services will start closing down. Tourists will find national parks and museums off limits while anyone needing a passport or help with taxes would have to wait. More than 1 million civil servants may not get paid during the shutdown. VOA