In a move that would make a government shutdown all but inevitable, House Republicans intend to pass yet another bill Monday night to undermine Obamacare, just hours before a midnight deadline to keep the government open.
Their new strategy is to attach a one-year delay of Obamacare’s individual mandate and a provision denying subsidies under the law to members of Congress and staff, commonly known as the Vitter amendment. Numerous Republican lawmakers expressed some doubt in the afternoon that the plan had the votes.
“It’s a matter of fairness for all Americans,” Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters. Would he bring up a “clean” continuing resolution? “That’s not going to happen,” he said.
If that’s the case, the federal government will shut down one minute after midnight, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promised to reject any provision that messes with Obamacare. Exiting a closed-door meeting Monday, multiple Republican lawmakers told TPM that a stopgap measure to continue the status quo was not even discussed.
“The 2010 election was all about Obamacare. And I know me and my class members came to fight with every tool that we have,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC). “And so if we can delay, defund — anything we can do with Obamacare, that’s what we came here for.”
What about the 2012 election? TPM asked. “I’m sorry — ask that again?” he said, before adding: “Oh I was re-elected in 2012 too, so I can stand on that.”
Republicans were “totally unified” in the meeting, said Rep. John Duncan (R-TN).
Will the plan pass? “I’m not sure about that,” Duncan said. “I’ve got another meeting to go to.”
“I think it’s well-received,” said Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-FL). “I never like to predict. Maybe it won’t be unanimous, there’s always a few. But it’s well supported. … I think it moves us down and gets us in a good negotiating position.
Senate Democrats voted down the House GOP’s earlier anti-Obamacare bill on Monday afternoon on a party-line basis, and leaders subsequently reiterated that Boehner’s only two options were to pass a clean CR, or a bill that would maintain current funding levels, or shut down the government. “We are not going to mess around with Obamacare, no matter what they do. They have got to get a life,” Reid told reporters. “Understand we are dealing with anarchists. They hate government.”
Some of the conservative GOP members weren’t fretting a shutdown.
“Look, the government has been shut down 17 times in the past,” Duncan said. “This isn’t about shutting the government down. … Obamacare is actually shutting America down.”
But the more moderate Republicans are deeply frustrated by their right-leaning colleagues.
“The lemmings will like it,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) told reporters of the new CR plan, referring to conservative GOP lawmakers. “I would say the leadership has been backed into a corner by the lemmings.”
When TPM reached out to his office, his spokesman requested to add to Nunes’ quote: “But I’d be hesitant to refer to them as lemmings because that’d be an insult to lemmings.”