Republicans in the House of Representatives set in motion on Wednesday a plan that ultimately could avert a federal government shutdown on Oct. 1, turning a later battle over the debt ceiling into the main event in the conservative struggle against President Barack Obama’s healthcare program.

Obama accused Republicans of engaging in extortion by demanding a delay in “Obamacare” as the price of avoiding default that, were it to happen, would smash the U.S. economy.

“You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt ceiling being used to extort a President or a governing party,” Obama told a group of business leaders.

Undaunted, Republicans said Wednesday they would add other demands to their list, including approval of the Keystone oil pipeline.