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Boehner Seeks to Force Senate Health Care Vote in Budget Debate

Image: Boehner Seeks to Force Senate Health Care Vote in Budget Debate

Tuesday, 10 Sep 2013 12:34 PM

 

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House Republican leaders said they will try to force the Democratic-led Senate to vote on defunding President Barack Obama’s health-care law before the House will agree to enact a stopgap government-funding measure.

“Our goal here is not to shut down the government,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters in Washington today. “Our goal is to cut spending and to stop Obamacare.”

Boehner said he wants to send a bill eliminating funds for the health-care law to the Senate and “force them to actually have a vote on getting rid of Obamacare.”

The move hasn’t yet received the backing of rank-and-file House Republicans, many of whom want to see a binding measure to eliminate funding for the Affordable Care Act. The House plan would allow a short-term spending measure to be enacted even if the Senate voted not to strip health-care funding.

Editor's Note: Should ObamaCare Be Repealed?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

Congressional leaders of both parties plan to meet Sept. 12 to discuss government funding and the U.S. debt ceiling, House members of both parties said following morning caucuses. Congress must enact a spending measure to keep the government operating beyond the end of September. The U.S. is projected to reach its debt limit in mid-October.

Representative Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, said party leaders today will be assessing members’ support of the plan to pair the health-care and spending-bill votes. Rogers, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said he supports the strategy because it satisfies members’ needs for up-or-down votes on health care and a spending bill.

‘We’ll See’

Asked whether it would have enough support to pass, Rogers said, “we’ll see.”

Representative Paul Broun, a Georgia Republican, said lawmakers were “just listening” to the leadership’s plan and he didn’t take a position. “I’ll do everything I can to stop Obamacare from going into place,” he said.

Senate Majority Harry Reid sent a letter to Boehner, requesting the Sept. 12 meeting with all four leaders, according to a congressional aide who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly because the letter wasn’t released. The two will meet with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, aides said.

The White House and lawmakers in Congress so far have failed to come up with an enduring compromise to keep the government running and avoid a rerun of the ongoing showdowns over the debt limit.

Health-Care Law

The House has voted 40 times to repeal, delay or defund all or part of the health-care law. The Senate has refused to take up almost all of those measures. About 80 House Republicans insist on stripping the funding as a condition of enacting a spending bill to keep the government operating after Sept. 30.

The stopgap funding measure probably would maintain spending at about the current annualized rate of $988 billion from Oct. 1, when the new government fiscal year begins, through Dec. 15, said two congressional aides who sought anonymity to discuss the proposal.

Still, the proposal may be opposed by some members it is intended to please. Representative Tim Huelskamp, a Kansas Republican who has lobbied for defunding the health-care law, said yesterday at least 20 Republicans would vote against the plan because it would allow a spending bill to be enacted even without defunding of the health-care law.

Debt Limit

White House officials and House Republicans have said they are determined not to allow a default on U.S. government debt. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in an Aug. 26 letter to Speaker John Boehner that the government would have difficulty functioning on tax revenue of about $50 billion a day.

That’s because the government must make 80 million payments each month to pay Social Security recipients and military personnel as well as other obligations such as Medicare reimbursements to doctors and hospitals, Lew said.

The 80 House Republicans who signed a letter last month urging their leaders to support defunding the health-care law are short of a “majority of the majority” that is usually the benchmark for consensus among the chamber’s 233 Republicans.

A vote on the temporary spending legislation is set for later this week, according to a legislative schedule posted on Cantor’s website.

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

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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