The House of Representatives passed a funding bill 230 to 189 Friday that would keep the government operating, but there is a catch.
The bill seeks to defund Obamacare, something Senate Democrats and the White House have already said is a non-starter.
The maneuver signals the start of a week-long stand off between Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate regarding a health care law that passed in 2010, and is slated to begin the next step of implementation on Oct. 1. The vote was almost entirely party-line, with only Republican Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia, voting against the measure, while Democrat Reps. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Jim Matheson of Utah were the only members of their party to support it. Both McIntyre and Matheson are top targets of House Republicans in 2014.
The Senate is expected to strip out any provision that defunds Obamacare and send the House back a clean continuing resolution to keep the government's lights on. The House then will have to decide whether it will try again or give up on its efforts to stop the Affordable Care Act. If the two parties cannot come to a consensus, the government will be forced to shutdown on Oct. 1, leading to wide-spread closures of post offices, military bases and Capitol Hill.
"It is a blatant act of hostage taking," Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said on the House floor just before the vote.
A Congressional Research Service Report shows that the Affordable Care Act cannot be defunded through this legislative channel because the spending comes from other mandatory spending accounts. It is also politically careless, GOP pundits say, a sure way to hurt the GOP's chances of taking back the Senate and holding onto the House in the 2014 elections.
"Americans are frustrated with Obamacare, but not to the point where they want to see a government shutdown effort," says Jon McHenry. a GOP pollster.
Republicans, however, see it a principled exercise, their last chance to stop President Barack Obama's health care bill from taking effect. A bill they say is already "killing jobs" and causing health care costs to rise.
"The next 11 days are all we have to protect the American people from the harmful effects of this law," Rep. Jim Graves, R-Ga., said about the GOP's tight timeline.
The plan, however, is dividing some Republicans in the Senate.
While GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, are leading the charge, promising to do what ever they can procedurally to halt the process, others have dismissed the efforts as petty.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called it a "suicide note."
House Republicans, however, are not ready to surrender their Friday victory. If there is a government shutdown waiting for them at the end of the legislative road, they are not ready yet to admit it.
"Even Belecheck doesn't script out the whole game or closer to home Urban Meyer doesn't script out every play," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio said during a meeting with reporters Thursday, referring to famous football coaches. "What happens down the road, we will wait and see."