House votes to derail Obamacare, fund government

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The GOP-controlled House voted Friday to cripple President Barack Obama's health care law as part of a risky ploy that threatens a partial shutdown of the government in a week and a half.

The fight is coming on a stopgap funding measure required to keep the government fully running after the Oct. 1 start of the new budget year. Typically, such measures advance with sweeping bipartisan support, but tea party activists forced GOP leaders -- against their better judgment -- to add a provision to cripple the health care law that is the signature accomplishment of Obama's first term.

Republicans welcomed the vote, saying the new health care law is a disaster that is forcing cutbacks in workers' hours, raising health insurance premiums and being implemented unfairly. House Republicans have voted more than 40 times to disable all or part of the health care law.

"There's no reason the American people should have to face this train wreck," said Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga.

The partisan 230-189 vote sets the stage for a confrontation with the Democratic-led Senate, which promises to strip the health care provision from the bill next week and challenge the House to pass it as a simple, straightforward funding bill that President Barack Obama will sign.

"Republicans are simply postponing for a few days the inevitable choice they must face: Pass a clean bill to fund the government, or force a shutdown," said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. The White House promises Obama will veto the measure in the unlikely event it reaches his desk.

At a post-vote rally by House Republicans, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the measure's approval "a victory today for the American people" and turned the spotlight on the Democratic Senate.

"Our message to the United State Senate is real simple: The American people don't want the government shut down, and they don't want Obamacare," he said to cheers from his GOP colleagues. "The House has listened to the American people. Now it's time for the United States Senate to listen to them as well."

The temporary funding bill is needed because Washington's longstanding budget stalemate has derailed the annual appropriations bills required to fund federal agency operations.

The fight over the must-do funding bill comes as Washington is bracing for an even bigger battle over increasing the government's borrowing cap to make sure the government can pay its bills. Democrats say they won't be held hostage and allow Republicans to use the must-pass measures as leverage to win legislative victories that they otherwise couldn't.

Obama said at a unionized Ford Motor Company plant in Liberty, Mo. , Friday: "If you don't raise the debt ceiling, America can't pay its bills."

"If Congress doesn't pass this debt ceiling in the next few weeks, the United States will default on its obligations. That's never happened in American history. Basically, America becomes a deadbeat," Obama said.

The No. 2 House Democrat, Steny Hoyer of Maryland said the GOP ploy is a "blatant act of hostage-taking" fueled by Republicans' "destructive obsession with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its unrestrained hostility towards government."

Republicans countered that the measure is required to prevent a government shutdown that would delay pay for federal workers, send non-essential federal workers home, close national parks and shutter passport offices. Essential programs like air traffic control, food inspection and the Border Patrol would keep running, and Social Security benefits, Medicare and most elements of the new health care law would continue.

Even before Friday's House vote, lawmakers were looking a couple of moves ahead on the congressional chessboard to a scenario in which the Democratic Senate would remove the "defund Obamacare" provision and kick the funding measure back to the House for a showdown next weekend.

GOP leaders haven't said what they'll do then, but with the deadline looming at midnight on Monday, Sept. 30, a further volley of legislative ping pong that prolongs the impasse could spark the first shutdown since the 1995-96 battle that helped resurrect President Bill Clinton's popularity.

"We will not accept just a clean CR at this point. There will be a fight," said Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., using shorthand for the stopgap spending bill, which is officially called a continuing resolution.

An earlier plan by Boehner and other GOP leaders was designed to send a straightforward bill to keep the government running through Dec. 15, but ran into too much opposition from tea party members who demanded a showdown over the Affordable Care Act, the official name of what Republicans have branded Obamacare.

Boehner has sought to reassure the public and financial markets that Republicans have no interest in either a partial government shutdown when the budget year ends or a first-ever default on a broader set of U.S. obligations when the government runs out of borrowing ability by mid- to late October.

"Let me be very clear," Boehner said Thursday. "Republicans have no interest in defaulting on our debt -- none."

GOP leaders want to skirt the shutdown confrontation and seek concessions when addressing the need to raise the debt ceiling next month, but Obama says he won't be forced into making concessions as he did in the 2011 debt crisis, when he accepted $2.1 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years.

Republicans held a meeting Friday morning with the rank and file to discuss the debt limit measure. Lawmakers said the GOP's debt limit plan could permit new borrowing for a year, paired with a mandate to permit construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a framework to reform the loophole-cluttered U.S. tax code, limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and higher Medicare premiums for higher-income beneficiaries. Even with the grab bag of GOP chestnuts, some ardent conservatives are likely to balk at voting for any debt limit measure.

At the very least, Republicans want to cause political pain for vulnerable Senate Democrats. At their rally Friday, Republicans cheered as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., cited four Senate Democrats who face re-election next year in GOP-leaning and said he wanted to know where each stands on Obama's health care law.

The four were Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

In interviews Thursday, Pryor and Begich indicated that they did not support the effort to defund the health care law.

"We voted on Obamacare," Pryor said. "It's the law of the land; it's been to the Supreme Court. It's not perfect, but let's work to make it better, don't repeal it."

___

Associated Press Writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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Comments

Topgun
Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk to my son about Syria and the "incontrovertible proof" that Assad gased his own country men. The opinion of my son and his collegues in Army Special Forces is that the rebels are the guilty culprits. Assad had nothing to gain by gassing his own countrymen, everything to lose and his agreeing the turn over his weapons of mass destruction is proof. Also Obama is backing the rebels and it is known that the rebels have burned churches and executed Christians. What a stupid president!!!!
Topgun
Obama is the consummate scam artist who has graced the White House. His health care plan will be a financial disaster for those who purchase health care insurance. The advertised costs are based on all eligible citizens enrolling. However since the young are not enrolling, the cost will dramatically increase for those who are forced to buy health insurance. KUDOS to the House for DE-FUNDING OBAMA's obsession.
SherriJane
Now Obama is trying to act like he really cares. He is saying he won't let anyone destroy this country. Well Obama that is exactly what you are doing day by day. The only thing you are consistent about is blaming others. Didn't do you any good and I am so glad the House didn't give in. Someone is showing they are doing the job for the voters - good for them!! You are a loser!
LadeeDiane
I couldnt be happier. I did see Obama ranting on Twitter about this horrific mistake. Obama is a worthless slug. He has done nothing but pat himself on the back while he continues to destroy America and I can list 100 ways he is and has ruined America and the people. MR. OBAMA I dont refer to you as President. You didntearn that respect. but I see you are spending $100,000,000 yes ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS FOR AN ADRICAN SAFARI NEXT MONTH! Its time to Defund Obama
SherriJane
They refer to this as Obama's "signature accomplishment" and that's a laugh. He hasn't really accomplished anything yet. All he is interested in is his legacy and that will be anything but the truth. Obama's little lackeys are so afraid of not getting voted in again and losing their pomp and circummstance they will do his bidding even at the expense of those that voted them in. This year has opened my eyes about political "party" and there is no such thing. All we have is a no good Senate and Administration who think they can rule the world. Good for nothing!
 

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