House Votes to Fund Government, Delay ObamaCare
The House of Representatives votes to amend temporary spending bill that would avert a government shutdown to include a delay of ObamaCare by one year. The bill will now go to the Senate, where Democrats have threatened to reject it.
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House Republicans voted early Sunday morning in favor of a temporary spending bill that includes a one-year delay for ObamaCare, a move almost guaranteed to shut down the government Monday night.
The Republican-led House passed the proposal 231-192 in one of two amendments attached to a Senate spending bill passed Friday night.
The lower chamber also passed an amendment 248-174 to repeal the health-care law’s medical-device tax and voted 423-0 to approve a bill to pay the military on time should a temporary shutdown occur, in a series of votes that started shortly before midnight. The final tallies came in after midnight, and the House adjourned until 10 a.m. Monday shortly after.
“Why are we doing this?” asked Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, an amendment sponsor. “We know that ObamaCare is not ready for prime time.”
However, the White House and the leader of the Democratic-led Senate made clear hours before the final votes that they would not accept the plan.
"To be absolutely clear, the Senate will reject both the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the medical device tax," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "After weeks of futile political games from Republicans, we are still at square one."
Within minutes, the White House vowed President Obama would veto the plan, resulting in the federal government technically running out of money Monday night and forcing a partial shutdown.
Failure to pass a short-term funding bill – also known as continuing resolution -- would mean the first partial government shutdown in almost 20 years.
Members of the House Republican Caucus agreed Saturday afternoon to their plan, knowing it would have little support from Democrats but still striking a defiant tone.
“ObamaCare is not ready, and the delay is essential,” California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Affairs, said before lashing out at a reporter. “How dare you assume this will be a failure. ... How dare you.”
House Speaker John Boehner when asks what he thought Reid would do when the Senate returns to work Monday afternoon said only: “We’ll see.”
The tax on medical devices is one of the administration’s main sources of funding ObamaCare, which on Tuesday will start accepting customers seeking insurance and providing coverage Jan. 1, 2014.
The House earlier this month sent a spending bill to the Senate that called for defunding the law.
The bill that the Senate returned Friday to the House had the ObamaCare funding restored and funds the government through Nov. 15.
The House proposal will fund the federal government -- except for ObamaCare -- through December 15.
The Senate restored the funding despite efforts by Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz -- a conservative, Tea Party-backed lawmaker -- to block that effort.
The Senate's vote was strictly along party lines in favor of the bill, which would prevent a shutdown of nonessential government services.
That tally followed a 79-19 vote to cut off a filibuster by Cruz, which exposed a rift among Republicans eager to prevent a shutdown and those, like Cruz, who seem willing to risk one over derailing the health care law.
All 52 Democrats, two independents and 25 of 44 Republicans voted in favor. That included Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and most of the GOP leadership.
“The Senate has acted in a clear way to keep government open," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Saturday. "Instead, House Republicans are insisting on not one but two proposals to shut down government."
Cruz was whipping up House conservatives to continue the battle over heath care, urging them to reject efforts by Boehner and other GOP leaders to offer scaled-back assaults on the law like repealing the tax on medical devices.
Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, attempted Saturday to move the debate to the next budget-battle deadline -- Oct. 17 when Congress must increase the government’s borrowing limit or risk defaulting on its debt.
Republican want spending cuts as part of the deal, but the White House has said it will not engage in extortion negotiations.
“The president is now demanding that we increase the debt limit without engaging in any kind of bipartisan discussions about addressing our spending problem,” Rodgers said. “By an overwhelming margin, Americans believe the debt-ceiling increase should be coupled with solutions that help solve our debt and grown our economy. … Coupling an increase in the debt limit with efforts to rein in spending makes common sense, so much so that it’s been used from presidents from both parties.”
If lawmakers miss the Monday deadline, hundreds of thousands of nonessential federal workers would have to stay home on Tuesday, though critical services like patrolling the borders, inspecting meat and controlling air traffic would continue. Social Security benefits would be sent and the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs for the elderly and poor would continue to pay doctors and hospitals.