Political wrangling over spending priorities and efforts to expand health care for Americans are threatening to block approval of funds needed to keep major parts of the U.S. government operating.
The U.S. Senate is the latest battleground in this fight. That is where the conservative "Tea Party" faction of the minority Republican Party is using speeches that go on for hours in an effort to slow passage of legislation.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz and others strongly oppose a program to offer health care insurance to millions of uninsured Americans. They and are trying to stop passage of a measure to fund most of the government unless Democrats agree to block spending on the program known as "Obamacare."
Democrats control the Senate, so the effort has no chance of succeeding there.
Republicans control the House of Representatives and they have passed legislation that would cut funding for the Obamacare program and approve spending for the rest of the government.
In spite of the delays, a Senate spending bill funding Obamacare is expected by the end of the week. Such a measure would not match the House bill defunding the health insurance program.
Unless both chambers work out a compromise and pass identical bills by the end of the month, it will no longer be legal for major parts of the government to spend money, forcing them to shut down.