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Attempt to Defund Affordable Care Act Derails Continuing Resolution

September 13, 2013—House Republican leaders are struggling to come up with a plan to avert a government shutdown after they were forced to delay a vote on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) in the face of a revolt by GOP conservatives intent on using the measure to “defund” the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) Sept. 10 released a CR to fund the government through Dec. 15, at an annualized rate of $986.3 billion, slightly below the current, post-sequestration level of $988 billion in FY 2013.

Originally the House was scheduled to consider the CR on Sept. 12.  However, the Republican leadership was forced to delay consideration of the measure because they did not have sufficient votes for passage.

Conservative House Republicans want to leverage the need for a CR to eliminate funding for the ACA.  They rejected a plan drafted by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to link a resolution withholding funds for the ACA to the CR.  If the House passed the health care resolution, the Senate would have to vote on it before voting on the CR.  However, the Senate could reject the health care funding resolution and still pass the CR, as was done in 2011.

In a Sept. 11 statement, Republican Study Committee Chair (RSC) Steve Scalise (R-La.) said, “We can achieve victory for American families without a government shutdown, but I will not surrender in the fight to delay Obamacare for all Americans.  We must use every legislative avenue available, through the CR, the debt ceiling, and sequester conversations to free the country from the President’s train-wreck of a healthcare law….”

Further complicating the situation is an RSC proposal supported by 43 House Republicans calling for a year-long funding bill at the $967 billion level adopted in the House budget resolution.  The Stability, Security and Fairness Resolution (H.J.Res. 62) includes language to eliminate funding for the ACA, delaying implementation of the health care law until 2015.

In a statement, the bill’s sponsor, Tom Graves (R-Ga.), said, “[O]ur plan will achieve fairness for every American by fully delaying and defunding Obamacare until 2015. This approach builds upon the Obama Administration’s policy of delaying portions of Obamacare and relieves taxpayers of the burden of funding a program that is not being implemented.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) met privately for about 45 minutes on Sept. 12 to discuss budget issues, including the need to raise the debt ceiling in mid-October.

At his weekly press conference following the meeting, Speaker Boehner said, ‘[F]or decades, the White House, the Congress have used the debt limit to find bipartisan solutions on the deficit and the debt.  These types of changes were signed into law by Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and President Obama himself two years ago.  So, President Obama is going to have to deal with this as well…. You can’t talk about increasing the debt limit unless you’re willing to make changes and reforms that begin to solve the spending problem that Washington has.”

Speaker Boehner also met with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Sept. 12 to urge the Obama Administration to accept a deal on the deficit in exchange for raising the debt limit.  President Obama has repeatedly insisted he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced Sept. 12 that the House, originally scheduled to be out the week of Sept. 27, will likely be in session.


Dave Moore
Senior Director, Government Relations
Telephone: 202-828-0559


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