Republicans in the House of Representatives are accusing their colleagues in the Senate for what they see as an abrupt concession in the push to defund Obamacare.
“They're waving the white flag already," one House GOP lawmaker told Fox News
The unusually caustic intra-party struggle began earlier in the day after House Speaker John Boehner said he would agree to the demands of legislators backed by the tea party to tie a vote on defunding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to a vote on a resolution to fund the federal government beginning Oct. 1.
The move would effectively condition the approval of the spending bill on Obamacare being defunded, or else risk a government shutdown when funding runs out at the end of the month, Fox reports.
Boehner set the vote for Friday.
But then, Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who has been pushing hard to defund Obamacare, stunned his House colleagues by releasing a statement Wednesday afternoon that appeared to acknowledge that the bill would probably fail in the Senate.
“Today's announcement that the House will vote to defund Obamacare is terrific news,” Cruz said, in a news release from him and GOP Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah.
“Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution — and right now he likely has the votes to do so," the release said. "At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people.”
But Texas GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold urged Cruz not to be so decisive so quickly.
“As I work with my fellow House Republicans on a continuing resolution that funds the government and permanently defunds Obamacare, I look forward to working with Sen. Ted Cruz on winning enough votes in the Senate to defund the Unaffordable Care Act," Farenthold said in a statement. "I urge the senator not to give up before the bill even reaches the Senate.”
Still, House Republicans are concerned that Cruz's move essentially pins the entire effort on the House, according to Fox.
"We expect them to stand and filibuster like Rand Paul," one senior House GOP aide told Fox.
"It's time to put on the big-boy pants," one House Republican, who asked not to be identified, told Fox. "Maybe this will wean us of the bed-wetters."
A senior GOP leadership aide told Fox that they do not expect this dissension to cause the bill to fail in the House on Friday. They are concerned, however, about where things are going now if the GOP senators don't defend their turf.
Effectively, in announcing the new bill, Boehner and his deputies backed off a compromise approach they earlier tried to sell to conservative legislators within the ranks, Fox reports.
That plan called for the House to send two bills to the Senate: one to defund Obamacare, the other to finance the government.
The Senate, then, could easily bypass the Obamacare bill and send the spending resolution to the White House, thus averting a government shutdown.
But House conservatives revolted, and Boehner is now linking the votes.
The plan, clearly, is risky, Fox reports.
Both President Barack Obama and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada have hinted that Republicans would be blamed if the government ended up shutting down.
Obama blasted Republicans in an interview on Tuesday with the Spanish-language Telemundo Network.
"We're hearing that a certain faction of Republicans, in the House of Representatives in particular, are arguing for government shutdown or even a default for the United States of America ... if they don't get 100 percent of what they want," Obama said.
Current funding for the government is set to expire on Sept. 30, and legislators must approve the stopgap bill to keep Washington open, Fox reports.
Under the Republican measure to be voted on Friday, the government would be financed through Dec. 15 and at current spending levels.
GOP legislators also plan to push a measure dealing with the debt ceiling, with a mid-October deadline looming for when the government can no longer honor its obligations, Fox reports.
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