House Defunds Obamacare, Keeps Government Open

Image: House Defunds Obamacare, Keeps Government Open Speaker of the House John Boehner is cheered on Sept. 20 after the House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent a government shutdown while crippling Obamacare.

Friday, 20 Sep 2013 11:27 AM

 

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The House of Representatives voted to finance the federal government through mid-December and choke off funding for President Barack Obama's healthcare law, setting up a showdown with the Senate and the White House.

The Republican-controlled House on Friday passed, 230-189, a stopgap measure to fund government operations after current authority expires Sept. 30. The bill preserves across-the-board spending cuts at an annual rate of $986.3 billion and permanently defunds the Affordable Care Act.

"The fight to delay Obamacare doesn't end next week. It keeps going on until we get it," Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and his party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, told reporters today in Washington.

Editor's Note: Should ObamaCare Be Defunded? Vote in Urgent National Poll

The spending measure now will be sent to the Senate where it will pass without defunding the healthcare law, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said yesterday. Obama administration officials said the president would veto the House bill if sent to him by Congress.

If the Obama administration and lawmakers can't agree on the stopgap funding, most, though not all, operations would come to a halt in less than two weeks. Republicans are using the stopgap spending bill as a vehicle to try to choke off funds for the health program the party has opposed since 2009.

Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican and chief Senate opponent of the health law, said he’s willing to do "everything necessary and anything possible," including holding a filibuster, to block action on the spending measure as a way to end funding for the healthcare law.

The Senate is expected to start considering the legislation on Sept. 23 with goal of finishing by Sept. 26.

Procedural Tactic

Democratic leaders are considering a procedural tactic that would put Cruz and his allies in an awkward spot and upend their efforts.

Under Senate rules, they could have a simple majority vote that would strip the healthcare defunding language once they end debate on the House measure.

House Republicans haven’t decided how to proceed once the Senate passes the measure after stripping it of the healthcare language.

If House Speaker John Boehner allows the Senate bill to proceed, he would need enough Democratic votes to join Republicans to pass it and avoid a government shutdown.

House Republican leaders also could decide to continue revising the measure and send the amended version back to the Senate for a vote, complicating the process and raising the risk of a shutdown as time runs out.

Debt Ceiling

The House spending measure also includes a provision directing the Treasury on how to prioritize payments if the debt ceiling is breached.

House Republicans said today they'd start working next week on legislation to raise the nation's debt limit, attach a one-year delay in the health law, make cuts to entitlement programs, and include approval for the Keystone XL pipeline.

"The next 10 days are very important for our country," said Rep. Tim Graves, a Georgia Republican, who has pushed for defunding the healthcare law.

Ryan said the measures Republicans will attach would reduce the U.S. budget deficit in the long term.

Editor's Note: Should ObamaCare Be Defunded? Vote in Urgent National Poll

The legislation will look "at debt over the long term and that is what matters the most," Ryan told reporters today.

 

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