Hours before the possible shutdown, the Senate voted 54-46 to reject the House-passed measure that would have kept the government open but would have delayed implementation of the health care law for a year and permanently repealed a medical device tax that helps finance it.
House Republicans, reacting swiftly, decided to try again. Their new proposal was to allow the government to remain open, while imposing a one-year delay in a requirement in the health care law for individuals to purchase coverage. That measure also would require members of Congress and their aides as well as the administration's political appointees to bear the full cost of their own coverage by barring the government from making the customary employer contribution.
"This is a matter of funding the government and providing fairness to the American people," said Speaker John Boehner. "Why wouldn't members of Congress vote for it?"
Asked if a stand-alone spending bill was possible instead, he said, "That's not going to happen."
Democrats said the House GOP measure was doomed in the Senate, and would meet the same fate as every other attempt to delay the law that passed in 2010 and was upheld by the Supreme Court.
The impact of a shutdown would be felt unevenly across the face of government.
Many low-to-moderate-income borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays, and Obama said veterans' centers would be closed.
About 800,000 federal workers, many already reeling from the effect of automatic budget cuts, would be ordered to report to work Tuesday for about four hours — but only to carry out shutdown-related chores such as changing office voicemail messages and completing time cards.
Some critical services such as patrolling the borders and inspecting meat would continue. Social Security benefits would be sent, and the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs for the elderly and poor would continue to pay doctors and hospitals.
Ironically, the issue at the core of the dispute, implementation of key parts of "Obamacare," will begin Tuesday on schedule, shutdown or no.
Locally, closures of national parks would hurt hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses. And federal workers who lost pay would spend less, hurting the places they shop.
As for the fight over "Obamacare," some Republicans said the revised House legislation did not go far enough in seeking to delay a law that all members of the party oppose and want to see eradicated.
Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia said it felt as if Republicans were retreating, and Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia said there was not unanimity when the rank and file met to discuss a next move.
For the first time since the showdown began more than a week ago, there was also public dissent from the Republican strategy that has been carried out at the insistence of tea party-aligned lawmakers working in tandem with GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
Rep. Charles Dent, R-Pa., said he was willing to vote for stand-alone legislation that would keep the government running and contained no health care-related provisions. "I would be supportive of it, and I believe the votes are there in the House to pass it at that point," the fifth-term congressman said.