Defunding Obamacare is the Right Strategy

Congressman Jim Bridenstine represents Oklahoma’s First Congressional District. He was first elected in 2012. You can connect with him online via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Not a single Senator or Representative is “threatening to shut down the federal government.”  Not one.

Contrary to recent commentaries and news reports, no Senators or Representatives are planning to hold up the continuing resolution needed to maintain federal appropriations after September 30.

Our intent is not to shut down the federal government.  We plan to fund everything except the unaffordable Affordable Care Act.  The group led by Senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, plus several Representatives, including myself, are reluctantly ready to pass a continuing resolution (CR) that funds the entire government, excluding Obamacare.

This legislative strategy has been employed successfully for nearly four decades.  It simply prohibits expenditure of taxpayer funds for a specified purpose.

For perfect example, every year since 1976, Congress has enacted the Hyde Amendment, restricting federal funding for abortion coverage in the Medicaid entitlement.  (As an aside, it is an unfortunate fact that ObamaCare sidesteps the Hyde Amendment by compelling businesses and individuals, rather than the government, to pay for health insurance that includes abortions.)

Republican critics argue that the strategy won’t work because Obamacare is mostly “mandatory spending,” while a continuing resolution addresses only “discretionary spending.”  The Hyde Amendment is a restriction on mandatory funding even though the amendment has been attached to discretionary appropriations legislation every year.

This is a proven strategy with historical precedent.

The critics are correct that a government shutdown will not stop Obamacare.  Most Obamacare payments are non-discretionary and would not stop in a “shutdown.”

That is precisely why we don’t want a government shutdown.  The CR legislation we are promoting would fund the entire federal government but specifically prohibit any spending, mandatory or discretionary, on Obamacare.

After House passage, the Senate can concur or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can decide to shut down the government.  If the Senate passes the CR, it will be the President who must decide to sign the legislation or shut down the government.

Contrary to conventional wisdom inside the beltway, this effort will energize Republicans and flip Democratic voters.  If Obamacare were actually going well, the President would want it to kick in before the election in 2014, not after.  The fact is that the President and the Democrats are very concerned that the whole scheme is unworkable.

As we get closer to implementation, more people are seeing how expensive and burdensome Obamacare will be.  Democrats who passed it are admitting it is unworkable.  The lead Senate author, Democrat Max Baucus, has called it a “huge train wreck.”  James Hoffa, president of the Teamsters Union, said Obamacare is destroying the 40-hour workweek that has been the backbone of the American Middle class.  Even President Obama’s delay of the “employer mandate” is a tacit admission that it is not working.

Now Mr. Obama is threatening to shut down the government rather than extend a similar break to hard working individuals.  He claims to be helping the poor and middle class.  He is instead advantaging his big business cronies and harming individuals.  This is not fair.  It will be his choice if the government is shut down.

As a member of Congress, I have received letters and calls from Democrats and Republicans alike who are asking me to do something to eliminate Obamacare.  I intend to do so.

For the good of our country, the continuing resolution is our last best hope to dismantle this terrible legislation.  Republicans in the House and Senate should listen to their constituents rather than fight them.  We have only days until the previous CR expires.  We need immediate, strong, grassroots activism to convince Congress that this is our last best chance to thwart this egregious law.

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