(Politico) - House Republicans will vote to pass a one-year delay of Obamacare in exchange for funding the government, a plan that drastically increases the chances of a government shutdown this Tuesday.
The decision was announced by the GOP leadership in a closed meeting Saturday afternoon, according to sources present. Republicans will also pass a bill to fund U.S. troops if the government shuts down, according to GOP lawmakers. The House’s funding measure will keep the government open until mid December.
This puts Senate Democrats and the White House at loggerheads with House Republicans, a standoff that could lead to the first government shutdown since 1995.
Senate Democrats passed a bill to fund the government until Nov. 15, but kept intact Obamacare.
“We’ve had enough of the disunity in our party,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told the meeting of House Republicans Saturday afternoon. “The headlines are Republicans fighting Republicans. This will unite us. This protects the people who sent us here from Obamacare.”
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said it would be the “fastest whip check in history,” as every member raised their hand, saying they would support the bill.
The House is expected to vote Saturday, sources say. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) immediately dismissed the plan, saying it is “as unreasonable as the [plans] that have been to date.”
This is just the first round of an entire fall filled with fiscal fights. The debt ceiling must be raised Oct. 17, and Washington will have to tackle government funding again before the new year.
Defunding, delaying and otherwise chipping away at Obamacare has been the centerpiece of the House Republican majority since they took control of the chamber in 2011. Obama has changed some portions of his signature legislative achievement. He has taken unilateral action to delay the mandate that employers provide health insurance to their workers.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he would not accept any attempts to delay or defund the law as part of a government-funding bill.
Boehner tried to avoid this fight, and direct angst over Obamacare to the debt ceiling battle, where he thought Obama would want to cut a deal that would include replacing the sequester. He first proposed using the debt ceiling vote as a backstop — something Republicans could look forward to if they didn’t get their way in the CR fight. But the rank-and-file rejected that strategy. Then, leadership sought to have a debt ceiling vote before the one on government funding. Rank-and-file Republicans rejected that as well, saying they wanted to see what the ultimate resolution in the CR battle before committing to raising the debt ceiling.
It’s a small group of conservatives that have tied the hands of Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — just enough Republicans to prevent the leadership from being able to exert its will.
That explains the fits and starts of the past few weeks. Republicans have cycled through several fiscal strategies, all of them proving flawed in the eyes of the conservative base.