House of Representatives

House GOP leaders resort to legislative trickery on ObamaCare

House Republican leaders have finally relented to growing pressure from grassroots conservative activists to defund ObamaCare — only they haven’t.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) will push a stop-gap spending measure as well as a separate resolution that would defund ObamaCare. It would allow members to say that they voted to deny funding to the unpopular law while avoiding a feared government shutdown.

“Under the Cantor plan, the House would vote on two measures, the [Continuing Resolution] and a resolution that amends the CR to defund Obamacare,” wrote Jonathan Strong at National Review. “Both measures would be brought under a rule that allows the Senate to send just the clean CR to the president, but only after they first vote on whether to defund Obamacare.

“If the Senate voted against defunding Obamacare, they could then pass the clean CR,” he added. “While this would force a politically difficult vote for Democratic senators, it isn’t the do-or-die fight that many on the right envisioned.”

Politico noted yesterday that this is the same legislative sleight of hand that House Republicans used during spending battles in the spring of 2011. They also point out that House Republican leaders may be “forced to go further to the right and commit the bill outright to defunding [ObamaCare]” if there is strong pushback from conservatives in the House GOP Conference.

While this play may be popular among House Republicans looking for a way to avoid a government shutdown, conservative groups are blasting the gambit, saying it’s a poor excuse for satire.

Congress is Congress regardless of party

Franz Von Stuck - Sisyphus

Sisyphus - A king in classical mythology who offended Zeus and was punished in Hades by being forced to roll an enormous boulder to the top of a steep hill. Every time the boulder neared the top, it would roll back down, and Sisyphus would have to start over.

That seems to be a recurring theme for this administration. The myth of Sisyphus was brought up last year by actor Bill Cosby, primarily as a characterization of Obama’s first term. Well, that plea for understanding the concept that it is an uphill battle to get anything done in Washington apparently was heard loud and clear, but probably not in the way that Cosby, or anyone in the Obama administration would like.

Now, it seems the public thinks it is Sisyphean task to get anything done in Congress, because they simply don’t believe the people there can do their jobs. And this isn’t a party-line thing either - the people have spoken, and they say neither party can accomplish anything. Monmouth University ran a poll, and found that there is one thing people from both parties can agree on, and sadly, they agree that Congress is broken - is beyond repair.

Whip Count: Obama’s Syria war resolution headed for defeat

Editor’s note: Due to mounting opposition to military intervention, we’ve added the Senate numbers at the bottom of the page.

As it stands today, President Barack Obama’s push for military strikes against the Syrian government would lose — and it would lose in a very big way.

Looking at the various media outlets and blogs tracking the vote, most show a majority of the House of Representatives rejecting authorization of force against the Middle Eastern country. You can click on the links to see party breakdowns and more information.

More House members urge White House for vote on Syria intervention

Members of the House of Representatives have signed two separate letters urging President Barack Obama to seek congressional authorization before he launches a military strike against Syria.

In addition to the 140 signatories from both parties on the letter from Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) penned a separate missive yesterday that received support from 53 House Democrats.

“While we understand that as Commander in Chief you have a constitutional obligation to protect our national interests from direct attack, Congress has the constitutional obligation and power to approve military force, even if the United States or its direct interests (such as its embassies) have not been attacked or threatened with an attack,” wrote Lee in her letter to President Obama. “As such, we strongly urge you to seek an affirmative decision of Congress prior to committing any U.S. military engagement to this complex crisis.”

Lee expressed concern for human rights violations and “horrific” loss of life in Syria, but she explained that this “should not draw us into an unwise war.” The letter also lends support to efforts in the United Nations Security Council to build an “international consensus condemning the alleged use of chemical weapons” and any potential response.

Republican Senator: Obama “getting perilously close” to impeachment

During a recent townhall meeting, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) told a room full of constituents that President Barack Obama is “getting perilously close” to the constitutional standard for impeachment, noted the Tulsa World:

As he has many times in the past, Coburn called Obama “a personal friend of mine,” but that did not prevent him from calling the president’s administration lawless and incompetent and “getting perilously close” to the Constitutional standard for impeachment.

He didn’t cite specific reasons for the comments, though at this point you can pick and choose from the scandals of the Obama Administration. Specifically, President Obama’s use of executive orders to enact laws — assuming legislative power, essentially, violating the Constitution’s separation of powers — is a real concern. Another is the NSA’s spying on American citizens.

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) recently suggested that there were enough votes in the House to impeach President Obama. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) also told constituents that impeaching President Obama would be “a dream come true.”

Republican majority not in jeopardy, despite lack of an agenda

Though still many months away, many political analysts and pundits are turning their attention to the 2014 mid-term election, the results of which will determine President Barack Obama’s legacy.

There has been much talk in recent weeks about the push by conservatives inside Congress to defund ObamaCare. If successful, this would lead to a government shutdown, a prospect that most establishment Republicans, including Karl Rove and Mitt Romney, believe would greatly diminish the party’s chances of taking control fo the Senate and, possibly, cost them the House of Representatives.

Those fueling the push to defund ObamaCare note that a majority of Americans oppose the law and that the Republican Party hasn’t done much to take a strong stand against it, outside of repeal votes that are dead-on-arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate. They’ve said they have every intention of funding the government, outside of ObamaCare, and are leaving the prospect of a government shutdown in the hands of the White House.

ObamaCare’s consumer cost caps delayed until 2015

ObamaCare Trainwreck

The Obama Administration has delayed yet another key part of ObamaCare. The New York Times reports this morning that the limit on out-of-pocket healthcare costs for consumers has been pushed back for a year to allow insurers more time to get their computer systems ready to comply with the policy.

“The limit on out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles and co-payments, was not supposed to exceed $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family,” notes The New York Times. “But under a little-noticed ruling, federal officials have granted a one-year grace period to some insurers, allowing them to set higher limits, or no limit at all on some costs, in 2014.”

The Times explains that the delay has been policy since February, but it was “obscured in a maze of legal and bureaucratic language that went largely unnoticed” on the Labor Department’s website.

“Under the policy, many group health plans will be able to maintain separate out-of-pocket limits for benefits in 2014. As a result, a consumer may be required to pay $6,350 for doctors’ services and hospital care, and an additional $6,350 for prescription drugs under a plan administered by a pharmacy benefit manager,” reports The Times. “Some consumers may have to pay even more, as some group health plans will not be required to impose any limit on a patient’s out-of-pocket costs for drugs next year. If a drug plan does not currently have a limit on out-of-pocket costs, it will not have to impose one for 2014, federal officials said Monday.”

Chatting with Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA)

Paul Broun

“I talk to employer after employer that tells me that they’re just sitting tight trying to figure out what to do about it because they don’t know how to operate their business under this threat of ObamaCare. What is happening is employers who need to hire new people are not doing so because of ObamaCare.” — Rep. Paul Broun

If you’ve been following some of the news out of Washington, you know there is a big push from Republicans in both chambers of Congress to defund ObamaCare. But for some, there is more than can be done to fix the ongoing problems with America’s healthcare system.

Rep. Paul Broun, MD (R-GA), a general practitioner who has represented Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, since, has a unique perspective when it comes to healthcare. He has spent the last several years making house calls to patients who need medical care.

During a discussion last week with United Liberty, Broun explained that that he has re-introduced the Patient Option Act, a consumer-driven healthcare proposal that presents a stark contrast between the top-down approach currently being implemented by Obama Administration.

House combats expensive regulations, passes REINS Act

In an effort to fight back against excessive regulations passed by cabinet-level agencies, the House of Representatives on Friday afternoon passed the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act by a 232 to 183 vote.

This measure would require congressional approval of rules and regulations that are expected to have an economic impact of more $100 million. These regulations adversely effect small businesses, have negative impact on job creation, and raise prices for consumers.

“For too long, Congress has allowed administrations of both parties to enact regulations at great costs to the American people with little oversight. The REINS Act would allow Congress to vote on new major rules before they are imposed on hardworking families, small businesses, and agriculture producers,” said Rep. Todd Young (R-IN), who sponsored the legislation. “Regardless of which party occupies the White House, this commonsense legislation is needed to restore the balance of power in Washington and return responsibility for the legislative process to Congress.”

Wayne Crew, vice president of policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), hailed passage of the REINS Act.

“This is a great day for American taxpayers,” said Crews in a release from CEI. “Between ObamaCare and President Obama’s pledge to remake American energy policy through the regulatory process, it’s more important than ever Congress exercise its constitutional authority to vote on these executive actions that impose significant costs on the public.”

House passes Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act

 Rep. Eric Cantor -- @GOPLeader

The House of Representatives voted on Friday to remove the Internal Revenue Service’s authority to enforce ObamaCare, a response to the agency’s targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups.

The Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act passed the House in a 232-185 vote. Four Democrats — Reps. John Barrow (D-GA), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), and Collin Peterson (D-MN); all of whom are potentially vulnerable next year — voted with Republicans to pass the measure.

Under ObamaCare, the IRS was given 46 new powers, including the authority to enforce the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and distribution of various tax credits and subsidies. This measure would remove enforcement authority, rendering the individual mandate, which requires Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a tax, and the already delayed employer mandate, completely meaningless.

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