IBJNews

House votes to derail Obamacare through funding cut

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The GOP-controlled House voted Friday to cripple President Barack Obama's health care law as part of a risky ploy that threatens a government shutdown in a week and a half.

The fight is coming on a stopgap funding measure required to keep the government fully running after the Oct. 1 start of the new budget year. Typically, such measures advance with sweeping bipartisan support, but tea party activists forced GOP leaders to add a provision to cripple the health care law that's the signature accomplishment of Obama's first term.

The 230-189 vote sets the stage for a confrontation with the Democratic-led Senate, which promises to strip the health care provision from the bill next week and challenge the House to pass it as a simple, straightforward funding bill that President Barack Obama will sign.

The top Senate Democrat has pronounced the bill dead and calls the House exercise a "waste of time." The White House promises Obama will veto the measure in the unlikely event it reaches his desk.

The temporary funding bill is needed because Washington's longstanding budget stalemate has derailed the annual appropriations bills required to fund federal agency operations.

The fight over the must-do funding bill comes as Washington is bracing for an even bigger battle over increasing the government's borrowing cap to make sure the government can pay its bills. Democrats say they won't be held hostage and allow Republicans to use the must-pass measures as leverage to win legislative victories that they otherwise couldn't.

The No. 2 House Democrat, Steny Hoyer of Maryland said the GOP ploy is a "blatant act of hostage-taking" fueled by Republicans' "destructive obsession with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its unrestrained hostility toward government."

Republicans countered that the measure is required to prevent a government shutdown that would delay pay for federal workers, send non-essential federal workers home, close national parks and shutter passport offices. Essential programs like air traffic control, food inspection and the Border Patrol would keep running and Social Security benefits, Medicare and most elements of the new health care law would continue.

"If this legislation is not enacted and we embark on a government shutdown, the consequences are severe: Our brave men and women of our military don't get paid; our recovering economy will take a huge hit, and our most vulnerable citizens — including the elderly and veterans who rely on critical government programs and services — could be left high and dry," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky.

Even before Friday's House vote, lawmakers were looking a couple of moves ahead on the congressional chessboard to a scenario in which the Democratic Senate would remove the "defund Obamacare" provision and kick the funding measure back to the House for a showdown next weekend.

GOP leaders haven't said what they'll do then, but with the deadline looming at midnight on Monday, Sept. 30, a further volley of legislative ping pong that prolongs the impasse could spark the first shutdown since the 1995-96 battle that helped resurrect President Bill Clinton's popularity.

An earlier plan by GOP leaders including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, designed to send a straightforward bill to keep the government running through Dec. 15, ran into too much opposition from tea party members who demanded a showdown over the Affordable Care Act, the official name of what Republicans have branded Obamacare.

Boehner has sought to reassure the public and financial markets that Republicans have no interest in either a partial government shutdown when the budget year ends or a first-ever default on a broader set of U.S. obligations when the government runs out of borrowing ability by mid- to late October.

"Let me be very clear," Boehner said Thursday. "Republicans have no interest in defaulting on our debt — none."

GOP leaders want to skirt the shutdown confrontation and seek concessions when addressing the need to raise the debt ceiling next month, but Obama says he won't be forced into making concessions as he did in the 2011 debt crisis, when he accepted $2.1 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years.

Boehner accused Obama of being ready to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Syria but not to engage with Republicans on increasing the nation's debt limit.

Republicans held a meeting Friday morning with the rank and file to discuss the debt limit measure. Aides said the GOP's debt limit plan would permit new borrowing for a year, paired with a mandate to permit construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a framework to reform the loophole-cluttered U.S. tax code, limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and higher Medicare premiums for higher-income beneficiaries. Even with the grab bag of GOP chestnuts, some ardent conservatives are likely to balk at voting for any debt limit measure.

Meanwhile, a GOP family feud simmered. Many Republicans in both the House and the Senate see the "defund Obamacare" strategy as futile and faulted architects Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, for whipping up expectations among tea party lawmakers that the fight could be effectively waged.

A key part of the law, the opening of state insurance exchanges, is set to take effect Oct. 1, so the effort to gut the health care law has added urgency among conservative activists.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • I Support Patty
    If you take the time to review the Campaign Contributions of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Insurance Companies for both the 2010 and 2012 elections, you will find that every Member of the House, the Senate, and even the POTUS received in excess of $1.6 Million each. The ACA will receive $8 Billion per year for the next ten years from the Pharmaceutical Industry in return for the US Congress blocking the reimportation of prescription medication from foreign pharmacies. Currently, anyone can purchase name brand prescription medication from pharmacies in Switzerland, France, and the UK for savings of more than 60%, and even though the pharmaceutical companies claim the drugs to be counterfeit, the package codes match to the very same codes currently shipped to Walgreens, CVS, Costco, and Walmart. Why spend billions of dollars to block reimportation unless the bottom line is more important than the cost for drugs to the elderly and poor? Set emotion aside and ask yourselves why healthcare costs rise exponentially in the US year-over-year while the rest of the industrialized world sees their healthcare costs dropping when compared to our costs here at home?
  • Please
    Readers, please disregard the ravings of people like Patty. Whatever her agenda, the lack of actual, relevant knowledge or experience is obvious. We have enough mindless fuming in the discourse right now. Publications like Forbes, The Economist, and even USA Today have all done extensive (sourced) reporting, both good and bad, on the ACA. It's complex, but real information is out there.
    • I know
      I have worked for an insanely profitable and successful healthcare company. The government runs Obamacare. Right now, the health insurance companies are raking in the $. But it all is coming from taxpayers. You.
    • Government Control
      There is healthcare access to everyone, currently. Yes, we all absorb the cost. We also offer clinics in great locations run by volunteers and donations. Americans are compassionate. Are you comfortable with your medical professionals entering all your information to be put into a GOVERNMENT run database? Have you answered those questionnaires? About your very personal past? Is that their business? Do you want to continue to cover illegals? Does Michelle Obama rule what you or your children eat? Does the government know better what to teach your children? Parents aren't perfect, but know what is best for their family. Don't be fooled...this is a huge step. Learn more. This is a takeover of a the most important part of your life: your body! PAY ATTENTION!
    • Enough gloom and doom
      Seems that people on Medicare have no problem with the government 'takeover' of their healthcare. Heck, they want to make sure nothing changes! Enough of the tea party catchphrases already. No one is 'taking over' anything.
    • Really?
      Big business is getting waivers for Obamacare. So are unions. Freedom of choice is the American way.
    • Small Victory
      Healthcare is a disaster. Government is a disaster. Obamacare is the perfect storm and NOT the solution. The US could: allow interstate healthcare insurance, cap malpractice (like IN) and much more. This would bring down costs and allow the government to cover the true needy. I've worked in the healthcare field, own a small business, our family is on 2 separate health insurance policies (thanks to Obamacare chaos). One family member could go on disability, easily ($4000/month prescription, covered by our insurance...did you want to pay it?). True patriots will not allow federal government to control their health. Control = where you get your healthcare, if you get forms of healthcare, if your medication is covered, if your too old to be covered for certain procedures. Pay attention! Government takeover is NOT the answer (how's that post office doing?)!
      • Big business must be proud
        The big corporations and CEO's must be very proud that their bought and paid for members of the Republican party have done their bidding today. This is a proud day in the boardroom...........
        • Responsibility
          Republicans weren't worried about spending when they pushed through Medicare drug program some years back...seems it was ok to guarantee drug companies would be reimbursed top dollar by the goverment, but insurance coverage for all is a waste of money to them. No problem, just go the ER if you need care, someone else will pay for it.
        • No Leadership From Republicans
          Millions of US citizens, including many children, do not have health insurance and depend on emergency rooms for care or simply neglect needed care. Why don't the Republicans in the House, including Hoosier representatives, work to improve the Affordable Health Care Act? I believe this would be the kind of leadership they were elected to exercise. Voting over 40 times to repeal an Act that will not be repealed is a waste of legislators' time, which is precious since they are in session only 3 days per week at best.

        Post a comment to this story

        COMMENTS POLICY
        We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
         
        You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
         
        Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
         
        No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
         
        We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
         

        Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

        Sponsored by
        ADVERTISEMENT

        facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

        Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
        Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
         
        Subscribe to IBJ
        ADVERTISEMENT