White House slams Congress over budget impasse

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House slammed a Republican plan on Saturday to temporarily fund the US government while delaying implementation of President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

A vote on the measure is expected in the House of Representatives later Saturday. The White House warned the move would guarantee a shutdown of federal agencies after the fiscal year ends late Monday.

"Any member of the Republican Party who votes for this bill is voting for a shutdown," said a statement from White House spokesman Jay Carney.

"It's time for the House to listen to the American people and act, as the Senate has, in a reasonable way to pass a bill that keeps the government running and move on." If unresolved, the funding impasse would require hundreds of thousands of federal workers to stay home.

In addition, more than a million US military personnel would remain on duty - but with no pay.

House Republicans - who hold a majority in the chamber - could pass a routine stopgap measure to keep the government running for several more weeks.

"But instead, Republicans decided they would rather make an ideological point by demanding the sabotage of the health care law," Mr Carney said.

Republicans have unsuccessfully tried to defund or delay the health care law more than 40 times, which the White House said was "reckless and irresponsible."

"The president has shown that he is willing to improve the health care law and meet Republicans more than halfway to deal with our fiscal challenges, but he will not do so under threats of a government shutdown that will hurt our economy," Mr Carney added.

The House had passed a temporary budget bill earlier known as a continuing resolution, which included a provision defunding the health care law altogether.

The Democratic-led Senate stripped that part out and sent a clean measure back to the House.

But instead of passing it, the House plans to amend the bill with a one-year delay of the health care law and repeal of an unpopular medical device tax.