House GOP Members Ask Leadership To Support ACA Defunding Plan
About one-third of House Republicans have signed a letter urging House GOP leaders to support a plan to defund the Affordable Care Act through the annual budget process, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Babington, AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/23).
Under the plan -- spearheaded by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) -- Republicans aim to block any government funding resolution that includes money for the ACA.
Republicans will have several opportunities to enact their plan. When lawmakers return from August recess on Sept. 9, they 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.
However, many Republicans in the House and Senate oppose the strategy, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). They say it is a reckless move that could result in voters holding the GOP responsible for the government shutting down (California Healthline, 8/22).
In the letter to Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the lawmakers urged GOP leaders to oppose any annual spending bills that include funding for the ACA, Reuters reports (Bohan/Younglai, Reuters, 8/22).
The letter states, "We urge you to affirmatively defund the implementation and enforcement of Obamacare in any relevant appropriations bill brought to the House floor in the 113th Congress, including any continuing appropriations bill." It added, "We look forward to collaborating to defund one of the largest grievances in our time and to restore patient-centered health care in America" (Schroeder , "On The Money," The Hill, 8/22).
According to CQ Roll Call's "GOPPERS," the letter makes no mention of a "government shutdown" and stops short of demanding defunding in exchange for their votes (Dumain, "GOPPERS," CQ Roll Call, 8/22).
The letter includes signatures from some high-profile Republicans, such as:
- Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.);
- Rep. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.);
- House Ethics Committee Chair Mike Conaway (R-Texas); and
- Small Business Committee Chair Sam Graves (Mo.) ("On The Money," The Hill, 8/22).
The letter also was endorsed by five GOP lawmakers whose names appeared on a list of 100 House Republicans that Heritage Action -- the advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation -- said it would target in a $550,000 ad campaign, including Reps.:
- Tim Griffin (Ark.);
- Todd Rokita (Ind.);
- Bill Cassidy (La.);
- George Holding (N.C.); and
- Ralph Hall (Texas) ("GOPPERS," CQ Roll Call, 8/22).
However, the AP/Bee notes that with 80 House Republicans signing the letter, there are 153 other GOP House members who have not signed on to the plan (AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/23). The letter also did not contain a signature from any member of the GOP leadership.
In a statement Meadows said, "We want House leadership to know they have a large group of members ready to stand with them to stop the president’s destructive and unaffordable health care law." He added, "Despite sending the letter today, I will continue to keep a running list of members who choose to lend their names to this crucial effort" ("On The Money," The Hill, 8/22).
Dan Holler -- a spokesperson for Heritage Action -- said he expects the number of backers will "continue to grow" through August ("GOPPERS," CQ Roll Call, 8/22).
Boehner Warns Against Shutdown Strategy
Meanwhile, Boehner on Thursday in a conference call with House Republicans indicated that he is not inclined to threaten a government shutdown to defund the ACA, according to a House leadership aide, the Washington Post reports.
Instead, Boehner urged those on the call to follow the strategy he laid out earlier this summer that calls for "holding votes that chip away at the legislative coalition the president is using to force Obamacare on the nation" (Montgomery, Washington Post, 8/22).
The aide confirmed that House leaders are considering making demands related to the ACA as part of the federal deficit negotiations this fall (Schroeder , "On The Money," The Hill, 8/22). Among the ideas being floated are plans to delay the individual mandate and codify Obama's decision to delay the employer mandate. The aide said, "This is all in the discussion phase right now" (Washington Post, 8/22).
In regard to the government shutdown, Boehner outlined a short-term plan that would keep the government funded until December while keeping the mandatory spending cuts under sequestration in effect (Bohan/Younglai, Reuters, 8/23).
Boehner said, "When we return, our intent is to move quickly on a short-term continuing resolution that keeps the government running and maintains current sequester spending levels." He added, "Our message will remain clear: Until the president agrees to better cuts and reforms that help grow the economy and put us on path to a balanced budget, his sequester -- the sequester he himself proposed, insisted on and signed into law -- stays in place" (Washington Post, 8/22).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.