By ANDREW TAYLOR
WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ A partial government shutdown enters its fifth day, with Congress convening for a session that promises no progress in breaking the impasse but will at least offer back pay to furloughed federal workers.
The GOP House is scheduled Saturday to vote on legislation backed by the White House and congressional Democrats that would make sure the 800,000 sidelined government employees would get their pay when the shutdown ends. The Senate is expected to clear it later, even as early as Saturday, for President Barack Obama's signature.
Lawmakers keep replaying the same script on Capitol Hill: House Republicans pass piecemeal bills to reopen popular and politically sensitive programs â¿¿ on Friday, disaster relief and food aid for the poor â¿¿ while Democrats insist that the House vote on a straightforward Senate-passed measure to reopen all of government.
"But the far right of the Republican Party won't let Speaker John Boehner give that bill a yes-or-no vote," Obama said in his Saturday radio and Internet address. "Take that vote. Stop this farce. End this shutdown now."
There seemed little chance of that. For one thing, flinching by either side on the shutdown might be seen as weakening one's hand in an even more important fight looming just over the horizon as the combatants in Washington increasingly shifted their focus to a midmonth deadline for averting a first-ever default.
"This isn't some damn game," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said as the White House and Democrats held to their position of agreeing to negotiate only after the government is reopened and the $16.7 trillion debt limit raised. Republicans pointed to a quote in The Wall Street Journal from an anonymous White House official that "we are winning ... It doesn't really matter to us" how long the shutdown lasts.