Tags: Obamacare | defund | Pelosi | Boehner

Boehner Seeks to Force Senate Health-Care Vote in Budget

Tuesday, 10 September 2013 02:44 PM

House Republican leaders said they will try to force the Democratic-led Senate to vote on defunding President Barack Obama’s health-care law before the House will agree to enact a stopgap government-funding measure.

“Our goal here is not to shut down the government,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters in Washington. “Our goal is to cut spending and to stop Obamacare.”

Boehner said he wants to send a bill eliminating funds for the health-care law to the Senate and “force them to actually have a vote on getting rid of Obamacare.”

Second-ranking Senate Democrat Richard Durbin of Illinois dismissed the strategy.

“This will be the 41st, I believe, futile House vote on Obamacare,” Durbin said in an interview at the Capitol. “The speaker obviously thinks that it serves his purposes within his caucus, but it’s clearly a non-starter in the Senate.”

The plan also hasn’t received the backing of rank-and-file House Republicans, many of whom want a binding measure to eliminate funding for the Affordable Care Act. The House plan would allow a short-term spending bill to be enacted even if the Senate voted not to strip health-care funding.

“The House plan is a gimmick that leaves defunding Obamacare in the hands of the Democrat-controlled Senate, and I will not support it,” Representative Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican, said in a statement. “I committed to my constituents to go all in on defunding the Obamacare train wreck.”

Leaders Meeting

Congressional leaders of both parties plan to meet Sept. 12 to discuss government funding and the U.S. debt ceiling. Congress must enact a spending measure to keep the government operating beyond the end of September. The U.S. is projected to reach its debt limit in mid-October.

Representative Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, said party leaders will be assessing members’ support of the plan to pair the health-care and spending-bill votes. Rogers, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said he supports the strategy because it satisfies members’ needs for up-or-down votes on both measures.

Asked whether it would have enough support to pass, Rogers said, “we’ll see.”

Representative Peter Roskam, an Illinois Republican and chief deputy whip, said in an interview that there is a “lot of interest” in the strategy and that members are “open to learning” about it.

‘Just Listening’

Representative Paul Broun, a Georgia Republican, said lawmakers were “just listening” to the leadership’s plan and he didn’t take a position. “I’ll do everything I can to stop Obamacare from going into place,” he said.

Several Republicans expressed opposition because they said they see the strategy as non-binding.

“Every member of the conference said they’re going to do everything they can to defund Obamacare, and our leadership said in there they know this strategy will not defund Obamacare,” Representative Tim Huelskamp, a Kansas Republican, said in an interview.

Freshman Republican Mark Meadows of North Carolina said the leadership’s strategy is “problematic for me.”

“It reduces some of our leverage,” he said. “That’s not something the voters back home want me to endorse.” Meadows circulated a letter signed by 80 House Republicans urging Boehner to support efforts to defund the health-care law’s implementation.

No Compromise

The White House and lawmakers in Congress haven’t come up with a compromise to keep the government running and avoid a rerun of previous showdowns over the debt limit.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent a letter to Boehner, an Ohio Republican, requesting the Sept. 12 meeting with all four leaders, according to a congressional aide who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly because the letter wasn’t released. The two will meet with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, aides said.

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 stopgap funding measure probably would maintain spending at about the current annualized rate of $988 billion from Oct. 1, when the new government fiscal year begins, through Dec. 15, said two congressional aides who sought anonymity to discuss the proposal.

Avoiding Default

White House officials and House Republicans have said they are determined not to allow a default on U.S. government debt.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in an Aug. 26 letter to Boehner that the government would exhaust borrowing authority in mid-October. At that point the government would have about $50 billion in remaining cash that would be “insufficient to cover net expenditures for an extended period of time,” Lew wrote.

The government must make 80 million payments each month to Social Security recipients and military personnel as well as for other obligations such as Medicare reimbursements to doctors and hospitals, Lew said.

The 80 House Republicans who urged their leaders to support defunding the health-care law are short of a “majority of the majority” that is usually the benchmark for consensus among the chamber’s 233 Republicans.

A vote on the temporary spending legislation is set for later this week, according to a legislative schedule posted on Cantor’s website. The legislation hasn’t been officially filed for members to review in order to have a vote in two days. The House isn’t scheduled to be in session Sept. 13.

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House Republican leaders said they will try to force the Democratic-led Senate to vote on defunding President Barack Obama's health-care law before the House will agree to enact a stopgap government-funding measure.
Tuesday, 10 September 2013 02:44 PM
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