The initial reviews from conservatives Tuesday are in and they’re staunchly negative. The proposed House Republican plan to force the Senate to vote on defunding Obamacare — while removing the threat of a government shutdown if Democrats reject the legislation — seems to have inflamed the very people it was designed to placate.
The plan was pushed by Republican leaders at a conference meeting Tuesday morning, and may be brought up in the House this week.
“Boehner has cooked up a bait and switch to give the Senate a hall pass to fund Obamacare while pretending not to,” Dean Clancy, the vice president of health care policy at the conservative activist group FreedomWorks, told TPM. “We oppose this kind of parliamentary trickery. … This is a grand betrayal that they’re cooking up here. They think they can baffle and confuse people, but we’re going to make sure they don’t succeed.”Clancy said FreedomWorks, which has a large war chest and boasts millions of members, will downgrade lawmakers on their scorecard if they vote for any continuing resolution that permits funding of Obamacare, including the procedural vote that the GOP has proposed. Instead he and other conservatives want the GOP to stand firm and demand that President Barack Obama agree to defund his signature legislative achievement.
“We see no reason why the House should go along with funding Obamacare,” Clancy said. “And it’s infuriating that they don’t even want to negotiate. They want to cave and run.”
Club For Growth, another well-funded conservative advocacy group, was similarly dismissive.
“Are these news reports from The Onion? Or are they real?” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said in a statement. “When members were at home over recess, did they hear their constituents ask for legislative tricks or principled leadership? Trying to fool Republicans into voting to fund Obamacare is even worse than offering a bill that deliberately funds it. I hope this proposal is nothing more than a bad joke and is quickly discarded. Republicans should simply do what they say they are for by passing a Continuing Resolution that doesn’t fund Obamacare.”
Ultraconservative Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) derided the plan as “hocus pocus” — a potentially ominous sign given that Republicans have few votes to spare.
— Justin Amash (@repjustinamash) September 10, 2013
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) defended the move Tuesday after the GOP meeting as one that would force the Senate “to actually have a vote on getting rid of Obamacare.” Cautious about the political risks of forcing a confrontation, he told reporters, “Our goal here is not to shut down the government. Our goal is to cut spending and to stop Obamacare.”
“We will also have a vote on the continuing resolution this week,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). “Along with that vote, we will send to the Senate the provision which says, up or down, are you for defunding Obamacare or not? The House has taken a stand numerous times on its opinion of ObamaCare. It’s time for the Senate to stand up and tell their constituents where they stand on this atrocity of a law.”
A press advisory by conservative Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) described the plan as “procedural chicanery.” He said the proposal “easily allows Senate Democrats to keep funding Obamacare. If House Republicans go along with this strategy, they will be complicit in the disaster that is Obamacare.”
So, what do conservatives want Republican leaders to do? They’re in a tough predicament between their base, which wants to destroy the health care law at all costs, and the realities of governing in Washington, where Democrats control the Senate and White House.
“They should pass a bill funding the government without Obamacare,” said Clancy. “Then they fold their arms, smile and wait.”