House Republicans on Friday celebrated passage of a bill to temporarily finance the federal government while defunding Obamacare, and told Newsmax that Senate Democrats need to follow suit for the good of the American people.
"Many Senate Republicans have promised to leave no stone unturned in fighting for this bill, and all of us here support that effort," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said at a rally of House Republicans. "We are calling on Senate Democrats to do the same thing."
"If [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid
is honest with himself and with the American people, he will encourage the Senate to support this bill," Rep. Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania told Newsmax in an exclusive interview. "It will give needed time to the administration to go back and try to fix the flaws that are just so evident in the healthcare law."
Indeed, it is Reid who will bear the brunt of the blame if the Senate shuns the House measure, Republicans said. Failure to pass the bill will shut down the government and impose the president's faulty healthcare law on the public, they said.
"Sen. Reid wants the American people to suffer under Obamacare — and he feels so strongly that he wants that suffering to occur that he's willing to shut the government down over it," Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia physician and vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, told Newsmax. "He's comfortable with having the American people suffer with this law."
"Sen. Reid has a record of not even bringing up bills that we send," Thompson said. "I just choose to be optimistic that he will do the right thing."
The House of Representatives voted 230-189 to finance the federal government from Oct. 1 through mid-December, while defunding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
The stopgap measure preserves across-the-board spending cuts at an annual rate of $986.3 billion and permanently cripples Obamacare.
But Reid said the House resolution would pass the Senate without the section that defunds Obamacare — and President Barack Obama has said he would not sign legislation that does not support his signature domestic legislative achievement.
If the White House and Congress cannot agree on the stopgap funding, most, though not all, federal operations would come to a halt in less than two weeks.
Republicans are using the spending bill to try to choke off funds for Obamacare, which the party has opposed since 2009.
The Senate is expected to start considering the legislation on Sept. 23 with goal of finishing by Sept. 26.
"We had a victory today for the American people," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. "And frankly, we also had a victory for common sense.
"This is hurting our constituents," the Ohio Republican added. "It's hurting the American people. It’s time for us to say 'no.' It's time to stop this before it causes any more damage to American families and American businesses.
"Our message to the United States Senate is real simple: The American people don’t want the government shut down, and they don’t want Obamacare," Boehner said.
But Reid blasted the House vote.
"Republicans are simply postponing for a few days the inevitable choice they must face: Pass a clean bill to fund the government or force a shutdown," the Nevada Democrat said in a statement. "The Senate will not pass any bill that defunds or delays Obamacare.
"Democrats stand ready to work with reasonable people who want to improve it, but Republican attempts to take an entire law hostage simply to appease the tea party anarchists are outrageous, irresponsible and futile," he said.
And Obama charged that a "faction on the far right of the Republican Party" was threatening to shut down the government or cause it to default on its debts.
"They're focused on trying to mess with me," he told workers at a Ford Motor Co. assembly plant near Kansas City, Mo. "They're not focused on you."
Unlike recent budget showdowns, this one pits younger Republicans in the House against GOP veterans in the Senate, although not to the extent it does one party against the other.
The House action also brought support from two GOP senators, Ted Cruz of Texas and Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
"Today, the House of Representatives did what Washington pundits only a few weeks ago said was impossible: a strong bipartisan majority voted to defund Obamacare," said Cruz, who has long opposed the healthcare law. "This is a victory for House conservatives, and it is a victory for Speaker Boehner and Republican leadership.
“The American people overwhelmingly oppose Obamacare — a program that is killing jobs, dragging down the economy, and harming the most vulnerable among us. They deserve a fight — and House Republicans are leading that charge."
Cruz has said that he might filibuster the Senate if the bill to defund Obamacare is stripped from the continuing resolution.
"This is a fight the American people are demanding. Washington is controlled by the president and his Senate Majority Leader," Sessions, a ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said in a statement. "They have successfully blocked legislative changes to the law that would spare people from even its most obvious flaws.
"We should use every tool at our disposal to address this law and to eventually achieve its permanent repeal and ultimate replacement.”
However, Sen. John McCain said that efforts to defund Obamacare would not succeed in the Upper Chamber.
"In the United States Senate, we will not repeal or defund Obamacare," the Arizona Republican told CNN
on Thursday before the House vote. "We will not. And to think we can is not rational."
McCain said the Senate lacked the 67 Republican votes needed to override an Obama veto.
"To somehow think we are going to defund it is simply not going to happen at this time, and it will, in my opinion, as it did before, harm the American people's view of the Republican party," McCain told CNN.
But other House Republicans cited the importance of defunding Obamacare and called on senators to follow suit.
“It has been increasingly clear for a long time how dangerous this bill is to people’s health and our economy," said Rep. Michael Burgess, a physician in Texas. "The administration has all but admitted the failure of this legislation as they've continually delayed and discarded parts of the law.
"It’s time for us to stop throwing money at this flawed legislation and get to work providing real healthcare solutions for American families."
Burgess praised Cruz for his anti-Obamacare efforts and noted that the House has voted 41 times to defund, delay, or repeal the healthcare law.
“The Republicans in the House have stood up for the health and well-being of the American people and sent a clear message to President Obama: Obamacare is destroying jobs, reducing full-time jobs to part-time jobs, ending health insurance policies that people want to keep, and forcing doctors that patients loved to leave the practice of medicine. "
Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said she was "hearing stories every day from families and businesses about the negative impact Obamacare is having on their lives. It is becoming increasingly clear that this law is unworkable and must be eliminated."
"It’s now up to the Senate to listen to a growing chorus of Americans who are tired with business as usual in Washington,” said Indiana Rep. Susan W. Brooks. "No one wants to see a government shutdown happen, and the Senate can easily avoid one.
"Its members just have to rise above partisan rhetoric and do what's best for this nation and their constituents," Brooks said. "The Senate needs to listen. The Senate needs to act."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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