House Republican leaders postponed until next week a vote on their strategy for passing a U.S. spending bill to allow time to seek support from members, one lawmaker said.
House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are lobbying their caucus to back a spending-bill strategy that would force the Democratic-led Senate to vote on defunding President Barack Obama’s health-care law.
A number of House Republicans oppose the plan because it would allow for passage of a spending bill even if the Senate voted to keep funds for the Affordable Care Act. Those members insist on ending funds for the law.
“There’s a bit of work that needs to be done,” Ohio Republican Steve Chabot said in an interview. He said Republican leaders notified members about the delay today. The vote had been set for tomorrow.
Many Republicans are calling for reductions in entitlement programs and an end to funding for the health-care law in exchange for the spending measure and raising the debt ceiling. Funding for the federal government runs out when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30. The U.S. will reach its debt limit as early as mid-October.
Also today, a Senate Democratic aide said leaders in that party plan to tell Republicans they won’t accept added conditions to the stopgap government-funding bill or an increase in the U.S. debt limit.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, at a meeting tomorrow with Boehner and other top congressional leaders will tell Republicans that Democrats would agree to a measure that keeps current spending cuts, said the aide. The aide sought anonymity because the plans weren’t public.
House Democrats said they would oppose the Republican effort to force a Senate vote on the health-care law. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, dismissed the Republican strategy, calling it “clearly a non-starter in the Senate.”
If the plan fails, the risk of a federal government shutdown increases and Republicans’ leverage in talks to raise the nation’s debt ceiling weakens.
“You know how we stumbled into World War I?” Representative Gerald Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, said in an interview yesterday. “I don’t think there is any design to have a government shutdown, but I think right now Cantor and company risk stumbling into a government shutdown.”
Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said earlier this week his goal was to “cut spending and to stop Obamacare,” not to shut down the government.
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. The 2010 health-care law, upheld last year by the U.S. Supreme Court, is designed to expand coverage to at least 30 million people.
Reid and Boehner plan to meet tomorrow with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, to discuss government financing and the debt ceiling.
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