WASHINGTON — House Republicans muscled through a stopgap bill Friday that would fund the government only if all spending for President Obama's health care law is eliminated. Senate Democrats and President Obama quickly made it clear they had no intention of going along, putting the government on a course toward a shutdown unless one side relents.
The 230-to-189 party-line vote in a bitterly divided House set in motion a fiscal confrontation with significant implications — politically and economically — but with an uncertain ending. Without a resolution, large parts of the government could shut down Oct. 1, and a first-ever default on federal debt could follow weeks later.
Each side predicted that the other would be held responsible, but determined House Republicans knew they were taking a risk even as leaders of the party's establishment warned about the threat of destructive political consequences.
Mr. Obama called House Speaker John A. Boehner on Friday evening but only to reiterate that he would not negotiate with him on raising the federal debt limit and said it was Congress's constitutional obligation to pay the nation's bills. Both sides described the call as brief and fruitless.
Senate Democratic leaders prepared to answer the House's move with a vote in the coming days — possibly on the eve of government funding expiring — to strip the health care provision from the spending bill and send it back to the House with little time for Republicans to change it. Mr. Boehner would then face a decision on how to respond.
After the House vote, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican, called out by name Democratic senators running for re-election in Republican states, daring them to stand by the health care law.
"We're in this fight and we want the Senate to join us," Mr. Cantor said at a Republican rally celebrating passage of the spending bill.
Visiting Missouri, Mr. Obama struck back at Republicans a few hours after the vote.
"They're focused on politics," Mr. Obama told autoworkers at a Ford plant in Liberty. "They're focused on trying to mess with me; they're not focused on you."
In a searing criticism of those threatening to refuse to raise the debt ceiling next month, causing the United States to default on its debts, Mr. Obama called the potential action "profoundly destructive." If it happens, he said, "America becomes a deadbeat."
The events left Washington staring at the first government shutdown since 1996. Lawmakers brushed up on the lessons of the five days of November 1995, when 800,000 federal workers were sent home, and the 21-day partial shutdown from that December to January, when half the government closed.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the White House budget director, told executive branch officials to begin preparing by updating their contingency plans and determining what would go offline.
The relevant laws have provisions to ensure a shutdown is "orderly," and to protect "the safety of human life or the protection of property," she wrote to agencies. But otherwise, much of the government that is paid for through the Congressional appropriations process would close shop. Soldiers would report for duty, but would not be paid. National parks and monuments would shut down, with any tourists told to vacate within 48 hours. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers would go on unpaid furloughs.
That said, many government functions would continue because of how they are paid for or because they are deemed vital. Air traffic controllers, border security officials and other public safety officers would remain at work. Social Security checks would continue to go out. Medicare would keep paying doctors and hospitals, though its claims processing systems might be disrupted. The self-financed Postal Service would remain operating as well.
Officials from both parties involved in past shutdowns warned that House Republicans stand to come out on the losing end.
Michael Horowitz, who was general counsel for President Ronald Reagan's budget office during a brief government shutdown, said the White House would have broad latitude to decide which workers were considered essential, which agencies to close entirely and how chaotic the closings would be.
In a twist, President Obama could easily declare the workings of the Affordable Care Act essential to life and property, keeping open the one effort Republicans are targeting while shutting down other parts of the government they support.
"For Congress to ask for a shutdown when the opposite political party is in charge of the White House is my definition of insanity," Mr. Horowitz said.
Both sides dug in for battle. Senate Democrats released a letter from Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, saying the House bill would raise the costs of preventive health care and prescription drugs for millions of older Americans while cutting off insurance for children across the country.
House Republicans insisted Friday that the Senate would acquiesce to their demands at least to delay significant parts of the health care law.
"The American people will have a chance to influence their senators, and this is a great time for the American people to get engaged and let their voices be heard," said Representative Tom Graves, Republican of Georgia, who led the push to link further government financing to ending the health care law.
Even as the House pushed through its spending bill, House Republican leaders met behind closed doors with their rank and file Friday to lay out the next step in the budget battle — a bill that would raise the government's statutory borrowing limit for a year, delay implementation of the health care law over that year, and push a grab-bag of Republican initiatives, from binding instructions to overhaul the tax code to mandatory construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
All of the measures tied to the debt-ceiling increase have passed the Republican-controlled House before, only to be ignored by the Senate. But until now, said Representative John Fleming, Republican of Louisiana, "we haven't applied it to a must-pass piece of legislation."
A government shutdown would be unsightly and could harm the economy, directly through the furloughs of government workers and indirectly by undermining confidence in the nation's governance. But Democrats, economists and some Republicans warn that a debt default would likely be worse, shaking the world's faith in Treasury debt, widely seen as the safest investment possible, and roiling the global economy.
Holding the federal funding bill hostage "is bad enough, but the debt ceiling is cataclysmic," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.
The House-passed spending bill would keep the government operating at the current funding level, which reflects the automatic across-the-board spending cuts that took effect in March. It would also block spending on the health care law, days before the uninsured begin signing up to purchase private insurance policies through state exchanges.
Mr. Obama has already issued a veto threat on the bill, but it will never reach his desk. Even Senate Republican supporters say it cannot make it through the Democratic-controlled Senate. Senate leaders are likely to wait as long as they can to send a clean spending plan back to the House.
Mr. Boehner would then face a choice: put a spending bill on the floor, unencumbered by other policy measures, and allow it to pass primarily with Democratic votes, or attach some other Republican measure and return it to the Senate with the shutdown clock ticking.
Senior Republicans say Mr. Boehner will likely choose the latter course, possibly attaching a provision to delay tax penalties on uninsured Americans who decline to purchase insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
John Eligon contributed reporting from Liberty, Mo., and Annie Lowrey and Ashley Parker from Washington.
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