Senior Republicans know the strategy is a nonstarter in the Democratic-led Senate, and for months have wanted to avoid a shutdown confrontation over Obamacare. The latest move is a tacit admission from leaders that they have, for the moment at least, been defeated by conservatives who are eager to eliminate the health care law at all costs. When the House bill fails in the Senate, as it is certain to do, House GOP leaders would then try to pass a "clean" continuing resolution that funds the government but leaves Obamacare alone. The prospects of a clean stopgap bill winning over most House Republicans are also remote.
"No decisions have been made, or will be made, until House Republican Members meet and talk tomorrow," said House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) spokesman Michael Steel.
Part of the strategy is to shift the legislative burden to Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), who have been deriding House Republican leaders as weak on Obamacare, to their deep frustration.
"It's a waste of time. No chance it passes the Senate," said a Senate Democratic leadership aide. "The bottom line is the same in any event: the House is eventually going to have to pass a clean CR with no defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act."
The proposal, if House Republicans decide to run with it, would spur a standoff that significantly raises the prospects of a shutdown at the end of the month. If the bill fails in the Senate, anti-Obamacare conservatives aren't likely to let up and embrace a "clean" continuing resolution; they'll demand that House Republicans hold out until Democrats cave.
The White House has threatened to veto a continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare.