WASHINGTON, September 20, 2013 – In a bold move, Republican Speaker John Boehner and his leadership have done what grassroots organizations have been encouraging them to do all summer: defund ObamaCare. Given the Senate’s Democratic leadership and their refusal to consider this option, the GOP’s move may lead to a compromise to delay the individual mandate at the very least.
As The Washington Times reported earlier today, the House vote on the continuing resolution (CR) was 230-189 to eliminate the funding for ObamaCare, stopping its implementation. The Affordable Healthcare Act, which isn’t so affordable, has not been implemented in accordance with its own provisions with the Obama administration missing over half of the legally imposed deadlines.
In addition, the Obama administration has delayed the employer mandate for one year, but not the individual mandate to purchase insurance. With the exchanges set to open October 1, this is the final opportunity to stop ObamaCare.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, says that the GOP version of the CR is not going to go anywhere in the Senate. President Obama’s press secretary says that Obama will not negotiate with the Republicans on this issue, either. As a result of Obama’s unwillingness to work with the Republicans, Speaker Boehner asks, why will President Obama negotiate with Putin but not the Republican party in his own country?
Former Senator Jim DeMint now heads up The Heritage Foundation, an organization whose political action arm has been pushing for defunding ObamaCare, including a series of summer townhalls on the issue. While Democrats are saying Republicans wants to shut down the government, DeMint rejects that arguments in an interview on August 19 on “The Brenner Brief Show”:
“We prefer not to have a government shutdown… We are encouraging Republicans to pass a resolution that funds the government in its entirety, except not funding ObamaCare.”
The House GOP has done exactly that. It is the Democrats’ lack of willingness to negotiate with Republicans that could cause a government shutdown, not the GOP’s listening to the American people. The majority of people do not want this law, with only 38.7% favoring the Affordable Healthcare Act, as it is officially called.
Regardless of what Reid is saying, Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas Mike Lee of Utah explained on “Hannity” exactly what is at stake if ObamaCare is allowed to move forward as scheduled.
In a press conference Thursday, Sen. Cruz was pressed on whether he would filibuster. He firmly replied, “Yes. And anything else. Any procedural means necessary. Listen, this is the most important fight in the country.”
Sen. Cruz also previously confirmed that delaying the individual mandate would be better than doing nothing at all, an option which may be the negotiated middle ground given the Senate’s likely refusal to defund ObamaCare in the CR. Should Cruz and others filibuster until the Sept. 30 deadline, it is possible that both sides will seek an alternate that has bi-partisan support — delaying the individual mandate.
In another potential scenario, the Senate could pass a version of the CR that does not defund ObamaCare and sends it back to the House. The House could reject it, and with a government shutdown looming, Sen. Reid and the Democrats may be open to negotiating with the Republicans in the House. A compromise CR could include a delay of the individual mandate.
There is always hope that Senators Cruz, Lee and others will persuade at least 49 more colleagues to vote to defund ObamaCare. However, given Senate parliamentary rules, it is possible that 60 votes may be needed to do so — a number that is far beyond reach unless Senators who voted in favor of ObamaCare now vote to defund it.
It is yet to be seen whether a delay of the individual mandate would include a postponement of the exchanges set to launch on October 1, or merely the requirement for individuals without insurance to utilize those exchanges in purchasing the required healthcare plans. At the time this story was published, a call from the Department of Health and Human Services press office had not yet been returned with answers to these questions. This story will be updated should a confirmation become available.
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