Boehner Won’t Commit to Defunding Obamacare
Movement Gathers Momentum In the House and Senate
For the second time this week, House Speaker John Boehner has refused to take a position on an issue supported by a growing number of conservatives in the Republican caucus.
On Thursday, Boehner was noncommittal about supporting a plan to exclude Obamacare funding from legislation to fund the government in the next fiscal year that begins October 1.
“We have not made any decisions about how we’re going to deal with the CR (continuing resolution),” Boehner told a Capitol Hill news conference.
Conservatives in the House and Senate are lining up behind a plan to block Obamacare funding first proposed by Senator Mike Lee of Utah. Lee and others maintain that the vote on funding the government for the next fiscal year is the last chance to block implementation of Obamacare.
In the House, more than 60 Republicans have signed a letter urging Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor to defund the implementation and enforcement of Obamacare in any funding bill brought to the House floor. The letter is being circulated by Republican Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina.
“In light of the Administration’s recent delay of the employer mandate and the Internal Revenue Service scandal,” the letter says, “it is imperative, now more than ever, that Congress do everything in its power to halt the implementation of the healthcare law.”
In the last Congress, a similar letter urging the House Republican leadership to defund Obamacare gathered 127 signatories.
In the Senate, Lee and 11 of his Republican colleagues sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stating that they will not support a continuing resolution that funds further implementation or enforcement of Obamacare.
Those joining Lee included Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Chuck Grassley.
“This is a matter not only of fiscal prudence, but of fundamental fairness as well,” the letter said. “The president cannot seriously expect to waive Obamacare’s onerous mandates on large businesses, while simultaneously forcing individuals and families to pay to implement an individual mandate the public has opposed since before the law was even passed.”
The letter said that if Democrats will not agree with Republicans that Obamacare must be repealed, perhaps they can at least agree with the president that the law cannot be implemented as written.
“If the administration will not enforce the law as written, then the American people should not be forced to fund it,” the letter said.
The effort to defund Obamacare through legislation to fund the government next year is setting the stage for a showdown with Reid and ultimately President Obama.
The House Republican leadership as well as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell may fear the political consequences of a presidential veto and government shutdown if the House fails to fund Obamcare.
Nevertheless, conservatives in the House and the Senate are determined to press the issue. The face-off is sure to be the subject of meetings with constituents during the month-long congressional recess in August.
Proponents of linking a halt to Obamacare funding with funding the government for the next fiscal year are encouraged by public polling that shows continuing opposition to the president’s health care plan. In addition, the unpopularity of Obamacare continues to grow as the administration struggles to implement the plan.
It remains for John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to show their hands. Will they take the opportunity to defund Obamacare or bend to threats from Harry Reid and Barack Obama?