House Republican leaders postponed a Tuesday night vote on a hastily-drafted plan to end the partial government shutdown and raise the nation's debt ceiling ahead of a Thursday deadline, shifting talks back to the Senate where they had stalled earlier in the day.
It was the second time Tuesday that an attempt by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to rush through a plan collapsed after apparently failing to win enough Republican support.
The new House GOP proposal called for funding federal agencies until Dec. 15, extending the debt ceiling until Feb. 7 and eliminating insurance subsidies that Congress, its staff and some White House employees get. It would have funded the government at the $986 billion set by sequestration budget cuts, as would most other proposals advanced over the past few weeks.
Union workers also would have remained subject to a $63 health insurance tax from which they had sought an exemption under the plan.
The plan was a variation of a similar proposal GOP leaders pitched to their rank and file earlier Tuesday.
But House Republican leaders abruptly canceled an evening Rules Committee markup of the latest proposal — as well as an expected floor vote — meaning House GOP leaders almost certainly were convinced they didn't have the necessary 218 votes needed to pass the bill.
The plan came under heavy criticism from influential outside conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation's political arm, who are pressing Republicans to include provisions to delay or kill Obamacare in any deal to fund the government and raise the government's borrowing limit.
"The proposed plan will do absolutely nothing to help Americans who are negatively impacted by Obamacare," said a statement from Heritage Action.
Boehner's failure to move on his proposals now shifts negotiations back to the Senate, where only a day earlier Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appeared optimistic they were close to hammering out a deal.
Boehner's surprise attempt to take the lead in negotiating process angered Democratic leaders, with Reid accusing House GOP leaders of trying to "torpedo" the Senate's progress.
"I speak for many of us who have been working in good faith when I say that we felt blindsided by the news form the House," Reid said.
But spokesmen for Reid and McConnell said due to the House's inaction to move a bill, the Senate leaders would resume their talks.
"They are optimistic an agreement can be reached," said McConnell spokesman Don Stewart.