In a 100-0 vote, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday cleared the way to debate the House-passed stopgap bill that would fund government operations but cut off funds to the Affordable Care Act, USA Today reported.
The vote followed an overnight floor speech by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) intended to drum up opposition against restored healthcare reform funding. But after speaking for more than 21 hours, Cruz ended up voting with the other 99 senators to open the spending bill to revisions by the Democratic-led Senate, CNN reported.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will likely remove the healthcare reform provision from the bill and return it to the House later this week. That will leave House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) with the choices of rejecting the healthcare-free spending bill, approving it or amending it and volleying it back to the Senate with barely more than 24 hours before a government shutdown kicks in, according to USA Today.
Even with time running short, Republicans still are working on a Plan B to stop the healthcare reform law, reported the Los Angeles Times. The healthcare provisions under Republican consideration include a repeal of the medical device excise tax and a delay of the individual mandate.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) already has floated a GOP counter-offer that would delay for a year the full implementation of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, CNN noted.
Last week, the GOP unveiled an alternative plan to the Affordable Care Act, which calls for a full repeal of Obama's reform law and provides $20,000 in tax deductions to families and a $7,500 deduction to individuals to buy insurance from vendors in any state.