Democrats said Republicans had effectively jettisoned numerous demands to block Environmental Protection Agency regulations aimed at polluters, a key stumbling block in negotiations for weeks.
Originally, Republicans wanted to ban federal funds for Planned Parenthood, a health care services provider that is also the nation's largest provider of abortions.
Federal funds may not be used to pay for abortions except in strictly regulated cases, but supporters of the ban said cutting off government funds for the organization — currently about $330 million a year — would make it harder for it to use its own money for the same purpose.
Democrats rejected the proposal in private talks. Officials in both parties said Republicans returned earlier in the week with a proposal to distribute federal funds for family planning and related health services to the states, rather than directly to Planned Parenthood and other organizations.
Democrats said they rejected that proposal, as well, and then refused to agree to allow a separate Senate vote on the issue as part of debate over any compromise bill.
Instead, they launched a sustained campaign at both ends of the Capitol to criticize Republicans.
"We'll not allow them to use women as pawns," said Sen. Patty Murray, a fourth-term lawmaker from Washington who doubles as head of the Democratic senatorial campaign committee.
For Congress and Obama there are even tougher struggles still ahead — over a Republican budget that would remake entire federal programs, and a vote to raise the nation's debt limit.
Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor, Alan Fram, Julie Pace and Ben Feller contributed to this story.
- Photos: UCLA wades through damage caused by...
- Obama to GOP: 'Stop just hating all the time'
- Child sex trafficking bust reveals worries...
- Most Americans believe the U.S. should offer...
- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- GOP-led House ready to OK lawsuit against Obama
- Democrats have million-dollar day on impeachment
- Probe exposes flaws behind HealthCare.gov...
- Obama to GOP: 'Stop just hating all the... 46
- US Court: Virginia marriage is for all... 44
- Most Americans believe the U.S. should... 25
- Obama maintains busy fundraising... 22
- Fast food workers vow civil disobedience 18
- GOP-led House ready to OK lawsuit... 16
- Democrats have million-dollar day on... 13
- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule;... 12