GOP Rift Grows Over Obamacare Funding

Friday, 26 Jul 2013 10:50 AM

By Lisa Barron

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A rift has developed among congressional Republicans over whether to try to defund Obamacare as part of any government funding bill.

According to Politico, Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina circulated letters urging their respective colleagues to join in the effort.

However, some GOP senators who first signed on to the plan now have backed away from it.

More than 60 House Republicans — including Justin Amash of Michigan, Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota — have signed the House letter calling on Speaker John Boehner to attach Obamacare-defunding language to a larger budget bill. The Senate letter also has support from leading conservatives, including Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

"I would say if we're not going to have a red line in the sand on Obamacare, what will we have a line in the sand on," Rubio told Politico.

On Thursday, however, three GOP Senators, including Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, withdrew their signatures from the Senate letter.

Cornyn said he had "second thoughts," telling Politico he was worried that including language to defund Obamacare in the continuing budget — intended to keep the government operating after Sept. 30 — would give Democrats the ability to increase spending by "eroding" the sequester.

"It's not a disagreement about the goal, because I voted to defund and repeal Obamacare more times than I can remember," Cornyn said. "But it's a concern about the tactics."
Also removing their names from the Senate letter were Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Mark Kirk of Illinois, leaving 12 senators still onboard.

The House letter urges Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia 'to defund the implementation and enforcement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in any relevant appropriations bill brought to the House floor in the 113th Congress, including any continuing-appropriations bill.

"In light of the administration's recent delay of the employer mandate and the Internal Revenue Service scandal, it is imperative, now more than ever, that Congress do everything in its power to halt the implementation of the healthcare law," the letter says.

The signers, however, don't commit to voting against any budget bill that includes funding for Obamacare, but at least one House Republican, Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, said in a statement Thursday he was "not going to vote for a continuing resolution that funds Obamacare."

According to Politico, the House letter wasn't the first time that pressure has been brought to bear on Boehner and other GOP leaders by conservative Republicans to defund Obamacare. A similar letter last year drew 127 signatures.

But this year's letter shows once again that the speaker may have to negotiate a budget agreement with his own conference members before he can even begin to work on a deal with President Barack Obama.


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