House GOP Plays Hardball on Obamacare, but Next Steps Remain Unclear

A continuing resolution that defunds the health care law is bound to return to the House. What will happen next seems unknown to everyone.

Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., leads a news conference with fellow conservative Congressional Republicans who persuaded the House leadership to include defunding the Affordable Care Act as part of legislation to prevent a government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
National Journal
Sophie Novack
Sept. 19, 2013, 3:51 p.m.

When asked at a Her­it­age Found­a­tion event on Thursday what the House strategy would be if the Sen­ate re­jects House Re­pub­lic­ans’ con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion that de­funds Obama­care, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, ref­er­enced New Eng­land Pat­ri­ots coach Bill Be­lichick. “Even Be­lichick doesn’t script the whole game,” he said. “We’re fo­cused on the vote to­mor­row; “¦ what hap­pens down the road, we’ll see.”

The prob­lem with the sports meta­phor — be­sides the fact that we’re talk­ing about the U.S. gov­ern­ment, eco­nomy, and health care sys­tem, not the out­come of a foot­ball game — is that un­like the Pat­ri­ots, House Re­pub­lic­ans do know how the oth­er team is go­ing to play. What doesn’t seem to be scrip­ted is what the House Re­pub­lic­an strategy will be when the Sen­ate in­ev­it­ably punts the CR back to them.

Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., a main con­trib­ut­or to the House bill, agreed with Jordan’s as­sess­ment, say­ing the ques­tion in­volved too many hy­po­thet­ic­als. “In the next 11 days, we’re go­ing to stay fo­cused on our ob­ject­ive.”

In real­ity though, the way those 11 days will un­fold is largely scrip­ted. We know that the House plans to vote on a bill to con­tin­ue fund­ing the gov­ern­ment but de­fund­ing the health care law Fri­day. The bill is destined for fail­ure in the Sen­ate; Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id said Thursday, “Any bill that de­funds Obama­care is dead. Dead.” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, angered many Re­pub­lic­ans Wed­nes­day when he ad­mit­ted he did not have enough votes to pass the de­fund­ing bill in the Sen­ate. “Harry Re­id will no doubt try to strip the de­fund lan­guage from the con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion, and right now he likely has the votes to do so,” he said in a state­ment. “At that point, House Re­pub­lic­ans must stand firm, hold their ground, and con­tin­ue to listen to the Amer­ic­an people.”

A Sen­ate CR that elim­in­ates the de­fund­ing pro­vi­sion would then have to be sent back the House. What re­mains un­clear — and what seems to be un­clear to House Re­pub­lic­ans as well — is what their next move would be.

Pushed to con­sider the seem­ingly in­ev­it­able hy­po­thet­ic­al, Rep. Raul Lab­rador, R-Idaho, re­fused to go in­to spe­cif­ics. “Speak­er [John] Boehner said there are oth­er op­tions,” he said. “I’m not go­ing to lay them all out on the table right now.”

Con­ser­vat­ive mem­bers of the House main­tain that it is up to Re­id and Pres­id­ent Obama to make the next play. But with the Sen­ate po­s­i­tion clear, and Obama’s veto threat already stated, what re­mains un­clear is what the House plans to do next.

With time run­ning out to avoid a gov­ern­ment shut­down, House Re­pub­lic­ans should really start prac­ti­cing their two-minute drill.

What We're Following See More »
FRENCH IS A LAWYER, VETERAN
Kristol Recruiting National Review’s David French for Third-Party Run
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Two Republicans intimately familiar with Bill Kristol’s efforts to recruit an independent presidential candidate to challenge Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have told Bloomberg Politics that the person Kristol has in mind is David French -- whose name the editor of the Weekly Standard floated in the current issue of the magazine.

French is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to the website of National Review, where French is a staff writer, he is a constitutional lawyer, a recipient of the Bronze Star, and an author of several books who lives in Columbia, Tenn., with his wife Nancy and three children."

Source:
CALIFORNIA VOTES IN A WEEK
Jerry Brown Backs Clinton
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

California Gov. Jerry Brown endorsed Hillary Clinton today, calling her "the only path forward to win the presidency and stop the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump." While praising Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign, Brown said "Clinton’s lead is insurmountable and Democrats have shown – by millions of votes – that they want her as their nominee. ... This is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other. The general election has already begun."

Source:
GLASS CEILING STILL HARD TO CRACK
Clinton Says Voters Still Hung Up on Gender
11 hours ago
THE LATEST

In a New York Magazine profile, Hillary Clinton said she still encounters misogyny at her own events: “‘I really admire you, I really like you, I just don’t know if I can vote for a woman to be president.’ I mean, they come to my events and then they say that to me.”

Source:
CHANGE WE CAN’T BELIEVE IN
Trump Vows Not to Change
11 hours ago
THE LATEST
Source:
BACKING OUT ON BERNIE
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
4 days ago
THE LATEST

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

×