After a marathon speech led by one man that lasted 21 hours and 19 minutes, the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate is holding a series of votes on legislation to fund the U.S. government beyond a fast approaching deadline.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz led efforts by conservative Republicans seeking to end a controversial law that would expand health care coverage to millions of Americans.
He began talking Tuesday in support of a bill passed by the Republican-led House of Representatives last week that would fund the government past October 1, except for the health care program known as Obamacare.
The bill has no chance of being approved by the Senate, forcing a showdown between the two parties that could lead to a government shutdown.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senior lawmakers have refused to support Cruz's approach, paving the way for Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to introduce a bill to temporarily fund the government, including the new health care law, until mid-November.
The bill will likely not be approved until Friday, which would give House lawmakers little time to consider the measure before next Monday's deadline.
Republican leaders fear that a partial shutdown of the federal government would hurt the party's standing heading into next year's congressional elections. A government shutdown in the mid-1990s, when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, boosted then-President Bill Clinton's re-election chances.