ACA Defunding Plan Gaining GOP Support; Some Members Still Wary
A GOP-sponsored plan to defund the Affordable Care Act through the annual budget process is gaining support among Republican lawmakers, The Hill's "Blog Briefing Room" reports (Balluck, "Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 8/22).
Under the plan -- spearheaded by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) -- Republicans are seeking to block any government funding resolution that includes money for further implementation of the ACA. A similar plan is circulating in the House (California Healthline, 8/19).
Republicans will have several opportunities to enact their plan. When lawmakers return from August recess on Sept. 9, they will face an Oct. 1 deadline to pass a stopgap measure to keep the federal government funded. After that, they face a deadline in late October or early November to raise the federal debt ceiling or risk defaulting on the country's debt (Bohan, Reuters, 8/21).
During a town hall meeting on Wednesday in Spanish Fork, Utah, Lee announced that Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) has signed on to his letter asking the GOP leadership to support his plan, making Roberts the 14th senator to do so ("Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 8/22). Lee's letter also is supported by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), among others (Reuters, 8/21).
Meanwhile, a letter in the House -- written by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) -- asking GOP leadership to support the plan has gained about half a dozen signatures since Monday, according to Meadows' office (Dumain, CQ Roll Call, 8/20). Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) said he plans to sign Meadows' letter. Stutzman said, "There's concern, there's worry and then there's anger and fear" among constituents over the law (Reuters, 8/21).
Many GOP Lawmakers Oppose Plan
However, many Republicans in the House and Senate oppose the strategy, saying it is a reckless move that could result in voters holding the GOP responsible for the government shutting down, The Hill's "Blog Briefing Room" reports ("Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 8/22).
Several members of the GOP leadership -- including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) -- have spoken out against the plan. Boehner has warned that the plan poses political dangers that could threaten the GOP's House majority. Several GOP governors also have criticized the plan, warning that a government shutdown would be disastrous for Republicans, particularly if the party is seen as halting government activity (California Healthline, 8/19).
According to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) -- a backer of the plan -- the Republican leadership is "scared to death" that the strategy could cost the GOP the House majority. Speaking at an event in Longview, Texas, Gohmert said, "They think if we have a shutdown, or a big showdown, we may lose the majority, and they will lose their leadership positions."
Similar fears have been echoed by several other Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) who recently said the GOP instead should be pushing for a broader, one-year delay to the law (Kasperowicz, "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 8/21).
Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) also announced his opposition to the plan, saying "If funding for Obamacare ends up being wrapped into other things such as funding for the military, then I have to support things such as funding for the military" (Deslatte, AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.