House Republicans Pass Obamacare Delay; One Step Closer to Shutdown

With Senate approval unlikely on Monday, the government will be out of money on Tuesday unless a last-minute deal emerges.

Sprinklers water the lawn outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, late Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. 
National Journal
Michael Catalin, Billy House and Tim Alberta
Add to Briefcase
Michael Catalin Billy House Tim Alberta
Sept. 28, 2013, 10:40 a.m.

The House ap­proved a meas­ure early Sunday morn­ing that would fund the gov­ern­ment through Dec. 15 while delay­ing im­ple­ment­a­tion of Obama­care for one year, a polit­ic­ally risky man­euver that united House Re­pub­lic­ans but pushes the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment closer to a shut­down.

The le­gis­la­tion — which also in­cludes an amend­ment to re­peal the med­ic­al device tax and a sep­ar­ate pro­vi­sion to pay mil­it­ary mem­bers in the event of a shut­down — passed eas­ily, put­ting the con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion to keep the gov­ern­ment run­ning past Monday back in the Sen­ate’s court.

“They might have to come back from their va­ca­tion,” Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., who has led the charge for an Obama­care delay, said be­fore the vote. “Harry Re­id has to now de­cide if he’s go­ing to con­tin­ue for­cing this bad law on the Amer­ic­an people.”

The Sen­ate ma­jor­ity lead­er, though, has already dis­missed the House’s plan out­right. The Sen­ate, he an­nounced Sat­urday, will re­ject the delay of the Af­ford­able Care Act as well as the amend­ment to cut the med­ic­al device tax, which Re­id last week called “stu­pid.”

“Today’s vote by House Re­pub­lic­ans is point­less,” Re­id said in a state­ment. “Re­pub­lic­ans must de­cide wheth­er to pass the Sen­ate’s clean CR, or force a Re­pub­lic­an gov­ern­ment shut­down.”

To avoid a par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down, both cham­bers of Con­gress must reach an agree­ment by Tues­day, the start of the new fisc­al year. The Sen­ate ad­journed on Fri­day un­til Monday af­ter­noon, and sen­at­ors are not ex­pec­ted to re­turn early to re­spond to the House’s latest prof­fer.

But ac­cord­ing to a Sen­ate aide and a House Demo­crat, Re­id will move to table the House amend­ments to delay Obama­care and re­peal the med­ic­al device tax. Re­id also plans to shorten the time-frame for con­tin­ued gov­ern­ment fund­ing un­der the bill and have the CR ex­pire Nov. 15 rather than Dec. 15.

That means the Sen­ate is poised to send back ex­actly the same lan­guage it sent to the House on Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to the aide. And that would leave House Re­pub­lic­ans in a po­s­i­tion of ac­cept­ing a so-called “clean CR” or for­cing a gov­ern­ment shut­down on Tues­day.

Ac­cord­ing to House Re­pub­lic­ans, Speak­er John Boehner, R-Ohio, and his lieu­ten­ants already are con­sid­er­ing how to de­vise an el­ev­enth-hour re­sponse that could be ac­cept­able to a ma­jor­ity of con­ser­vat­ives in his con­fer­ence if the Sen­ate does not budge.

One op­tion, mem­bers said, is to re­vise the CR yet again — this time to in­clude an amend­ment from Sen. Dav­id Vit­ter, R-La., that would pre­vent mem­bers of Con­gress and their staffers from re­ceiv­ing ex­emp­tions from key Obama­care meas­ures.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ar­iz., said he would sup­port that strategy, be­cause it would “make them live un­der this hellish law.”

Oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans, however, were non­com­mit­tal on that ap­proach. “It just de­pends on how many people are con­trolled by Ted Cruz,” sniped Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a mod­er­ate who has vo­cally op­posed of the cam­paign against Obama­care moun­ted by the ju­ni­or Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­or from Texas.

For now, at least, House Re­pub­lic­ans in­sist that their con­fer­ence is uni­fied — a claim sup­por­ted by the votes taken early Sunday morn­ing.

The floor ac­tion con­sisted of three sep­ar­ate votes. The House first voted 248 to 174 to re­peal the tax on med­ic­al devices, with 17 Demo­crats join­ing 231 Re­pub­lic­ans in sup­port. The House then voted 231-192 to delay Obam­care’s im­ple­ment­a­tion by a year, with two de­fec­tions from each party. A third vote was un­an­im­ous to con­tin­ue ap­pro­pri­ations for mil­it­ary pay in the event of a shut­down.

Hours be­fore the votes, cheers erup­ted in a closed-door GOP meet­ing Sat­urday af­ter­noon after Boehner made it clear the House was not giv­ing up in the stan­doff with the Sen­ate and the White House.

“Let’s roll,” an ex­uber­ant Rep. John Cul­ber­son, R-Tex., shouted as col­leagues cheered Boehner. An un­for­tu­nate ana­logy, per­haps, be­cause Cul­ber­son later ex­plained he was evok­ing the battle cry of pas­sen­gers who tried to wrest con­trol of United Air­lines Flight 93 from ter­ror­ists on Sept. 11, 2001. That was the fourth plane to go down in that day’s ter­ror­ist at­tacks, crash­ing in a Pennsylvania field and killing all on board.

Rep. Pete Ses­sions, R-Texas, went on the House floor shortly after the meet­ing and called Boehner “our great speak­er.”

Those in the room Sat­urday said there was un­cer­tainty over what Boehner was go­ing to say about the House’s op­tions, giv­en the Sen­ate’s re­jec­tion of an earli­er House CR con­tain­ing lan­guage to de­fund the Af­ford­able Care Act. That lan­guage was stripped out by Re­id on Fri­day, provid­ing a “clean” bill deal­ing only with gov­ern­ment fund­ing.

But, as law­makers de­scribed it, Boehner walked up to the mi­cro­phone and pro­ceeded to mat­ter-of-factly de­tail what his new strategy would en­tail.

“People went bonkers,” with ap­prov­al, said Rep. Matt Sal­mon, R-Ar­iz. “They were very ex­cited.”

And as the meet­ing ad­journed, the ac­col­ades for Boehner kept on com­ing. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, a vo­cal crit­ic of lead­er­ship who just two days ago trashed Boehner’s pro­posed debt-ceil­ing man­euver, ex­ited the meet­ing and flashed a big “thumbs up” sign.

Even Rep. Michele Bach­mann of Min­nesota, who of­ten clashes with lead­er­ship and is known to reg­u­larly shun the me­dia, ran to­ward a horde of re­port­ers and de­clared: “It’s a fab­ulous bill!”

Des­pite the en­thu­si­asm, it’s clear that giv­en the warn­ings from the White House and Re­id, Sunday’s votes could bring the gov­ern­ment one gi­ant step closer to a shut­down. But House Re­pub­lic­ans — in­clud­ing some who met privately this week with Cruz — said Sat­urday they were not wor­ried that ex­tend­ing the battle with the Sen­ate might send the na­tion spiral­ing in­to a shut­down.

“Re­pub­lic­ans will prob­ably be blamed for whatever hap­pens,” Franks said. “So, what re­mains for us is to do the right thing.”

In fact, some GOP law­makers ar­gued that by act­ing quickly, they were do­ing the Sen­ate a fa­vor.

“We’re here for the week­end, we might as well work and get our job done — and give them plenty of time to get their job done,” said Rep. John Flem­ing, R-La.

Ad­ded Rep. Steve Scal­ise, chair­man of the Re­pub­lic­an Study Com­mit­tee: “We have a good plan … and we’re mov­ing quickly. The Sen­ate, if they’re ser­i­ous about not want­ing a gov­ern­ment shut­down, they ought to ad­dress this quickly.”

The en­tirety of the House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence seemed sup­port­ive of the bill, and some mem­bers went as far as to pre­dict un­an­im­ous GOP sup­port for the pro­pos­al. (The only Re­pub­lic­an de­fect­or on the bill the House sent to the Sen­ate earli­er this month was Rep. Scott Ri­gell of Vir­gin­ia, who op­posed the con­tin­ued se­quester cuts writ­ten in­to the bill.)

There is also op­tim­ism among Re­pub­lic­ans that some Sen­ate Demo­crats will rally to sup­port cer­tain pro­vi­sions of the bill. Mul­tiple GOP law­makers spe­cific­ally cited the sup­port for delay­ing Obama­care com­ing from Demo­crat­ic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Vir­gin­ia, and sug­ges­ted that oth­er red-state Demo­crats would be pres­sured to fol­low suit.

Law­makers said that the GOP bill and its amend­ments will be struc­tured in such a way that if the Sen­ate strips out the Obama­care lan­guage, it would re­quire the bill to come back to the House. “The speak­er made that very clear,” Sal­mon said. “If they change the bill in any way, it would have to come back to the House.”

What We're Following See More »
SHUTDOWN LOOMING
House Approves Spending Bill
16 hours ago
BREAKING

The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.

HEADS TO OBAMA
Senate Approves Defense Bill
17 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.

Source:
ANTI-MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE
Trump Chooses Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr CEO as Labor Sec
19 hours ago
BREAKING
BUCKING THE BOSS?
Trump Cabinet Full of TPP Supporters
19 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"President-elect Donald Trump railed against the Trans-Pacific Partnership on his way to winning the White House and has vowed immediately to withdraw the U.S. from the 12-nation accord. Several of his cabinet picks and other early nominees to top posts, however, have endorsed or spoken favorably about the trade pact, including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, announced Wednesday as Mr. Trump’s pick for ambassador to China, and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Mr. Trump’s pick to head the Department of Defense."

Source:
WWE WRESTLING OWNER
Trump to Nominate Linda McMahon to Head SBA
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login