Conservatives Could Derail Senate Spending Bill

Monday, 11 Mar 2013 03:35 PM

By David Yonkman, Washington Correspondent

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Conservative senators and outside groups are ready to derail a government spending bill this week if it fails to cut funding for President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has been joined by fellow GOP Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Mike Lee of Utah.

“I will join Sen. Cruz in objecting to Senate consideration of any continuing resolution without a vote on delaying funding of Obamacare,” Lee said.

“At this time of fiscal turmoil, Congress shouldn’t borrow more money to pay for something we cannot afford. Although I would prefer a full repeal of Obamacare, we should, at minimum, delay its implementation until our country is experiencing real, sustained economic growth.”

The conservative Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America announced it will hold a vote against the Cruz amendment on its annual scorecards, which could be used against GOP senators in future elections.

“As we have written in previous key vote alerts, Obamacare betrays the principles of limited government and individual liberty that our Founding Fathers relied on when they crafted the Constitution,” said Andy Roth, vice president of government affairs for the Club for Growth.

Senate appropriators are still negotiating a bill whose details are scheduled to be announced at some point Monday.

The $982 billion House-passed bill incorporated the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester, but it also provided the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs with additional flexibility to meet their front-line needs.

The Senate bill could include such flexibility for other federal departments once the current continuing resolution expires on March 27.

Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski will likely need the support of the ranking Republican, Sen. Richard Shelby, to get the necessary 60 votes to move the bill forward.

“We are still working at this point,” said Jonathan Graffeo, a spokesman for Shelby.

House Speaker John Boehner last week warned Senate Democrats against making significant changes to a House-passed government funding measure, or Republicans may strip the flexibility it gives for applying military spending cuts.

“If Senate Democrats try to load up this bill with extraneous provisions and partisan riders, we will be prepared to move a clean continuing resolution through the end of the year,” Boehner said.

“I don't want to do that. I don't think that would help our troops, so I would urge Democratic leaders in the Senate to not get greedy and get carried away and try to put forward the possibility of a government shutdown.”

House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing anticipates that the Senate will send over a clean spending bill

“It is known that in order to ensure House passage, their [bill] cannot contain poison-pill policy riders and overly numerous anomalies,” Hing said.

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