The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on Friday on a measure aimed at preventing a government shutdown after days of wrangling over U.S. President Barack Obama's health care law, which congressional Republicans are aiming to derail.
If Senators pass the bill to prevent a shutdown on Friday, the legislation will then go back to the House of Representatives, where it must be approved within the next few days to avert a government shutdown.
On Thursday, President Obama ridiculed the Republicans who continue to oppose his health care law. He accused the Republican opposition of trying to blackmail him into repealing or defunding the Affordable Care Act by threatening a partial government shutdown starting October 1.
John Boehner, top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, said it is unlikely the Republican-controlled House will pass a temporary spending bill that will fund the government beyond Tuesday. If no agreement is reached by October 17, the U.S. could default on its debts for the first time ever.
The House is expected to approve a measure later this week that would allow the Treasury Department to increase its borrowing authority to pay the government's debts, while imposing a one-year delay on the Affordable Care Act, which expands health care coverage to millions of currently uninsured Americans.
The temporary spending bill would fund the government, including the new health care law, until mid-November. However, a vote will probably not occur until Friday, which would give House lawmakers little time to consider it before current funding levels run out at midnight Monday.
Republican leaders fear 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, was followed by the re-election of then-President Bill Clinton in 1996.