Remember when Republicans took control of the House in the 2010 election by riding the anti-ObamaCare wave and pledging to repeal and/or defund it? What happened to that?
As I wrote last week, the repeal efforts have largely fizzled. Then on Wednesday, the House again voted for a CR that doesn’t even touch the funding for ObamaCare. The bill (HR 933, dubbed the “Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013,” would extend federal government funding beyond March 27 through the end of FY 2013 on September 30, 2013. Congratulations to the Boehner/Cantor/McCarthy gang for refusing to use the House’s power to originate appropriations bills to any meaningful effect.
The CR passed despite valiant effort by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and Re. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) to encourage Boehner and Cantor to support the defunding efforts. The letter stated in part:
“Since much of the implementation of ObamaCare is a function of the discretionary appropriations process, and since most of the citizens we represent believe that ObamaCare should never go into effect, we urge you to affirmatively de-fund the implementation of ObamaCare in any relevant appropriations bill brought to the House floor in the 113th Congress, including any continuing appropriations bill. Please commit to not bring to the House Floor any legislation that provides or allows funds to implement ObamaCare through the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Treasury, or any other federal entity.”
The effort failed. As Daniel Horowitz wrote at RedState, only 14 House Republicans voted against passage of the CR. Not surprisingly, Bridenstine and Rep. Amash (R-MI) were among the ranks of “Nays.” Huelskamp inexplicably was a “Yea.” The leadership is defending the CR on the grounds that it addresses only discretionary spending, not the “mandatory” ObamaCare funding. It’s well past time we start addressing mandatory spending then.
Fortunately, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) are stepping up to continue the fight by proposing an amendment to the CR in the Senate that delays Obamacare funding until the economy improves. Byron York of the Washington Examiner has quoted Cruz and Lee stating the following:
“I intend to object to consideration of any continuing resolution that does not include a vote to delay funding of Obamacare,” Cruz said in a press release Wednesday. Arguing that Obamacare will slow economic growth — already just 0.1 percent last quarter — Cruz added, “I believe we should continue to delay such funding at least until economic growth returns to historic averages.”
“Congress shouldn’t borrow more money to pay for something we cannot afford,” added Lee. “Although I would prefer a full repeal of Obamacare, we should at minimum delay its implementation until our country is experiencing real, sustained economic growth.”
York also quotes an aide addressing the strategy:
“But some Republicans, supported by some outside conservative groups, see the continuing resolution as an opportunity to keep up the fight against Obamacare. “What we’re saying to Reid is if you give us an up-or-down vote on defunding Obamacare, we will not object to the motion to proceed on the CR,” says one Hill aide. “That’s all we’re asking. What Reid will do is turn this around and say, ‘Here are the Tea Party Republicans trying to filibuster the CR because they want to shut down the government unless we do something crazy like defund Obamacare. Just move on — Obamacare is settled law.’”
The stakes are too high here to cave so easily. ObamaCare forces massive subsidies onto exchange coverage starting next year for households under 400% of the federal poverty level. HHS recently published the 2013 federal poverty levels in the Federal Register. Based on 2013 numbers, the new ObamaCare entitlement will be available for a family of four earning up to $94,200 a year. This fight will become exponentially more difficult once such a broad section of the country gets a taste of those government handouts.
FreedomWorks is again leading the charge on this issue by urging Senators to vote for the Cruz and Lee amendment to the CR, including this helpful guide for contacting your Senators. The vote could happen as early as this week.