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White House threatens veto of IRS bar in health care law

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The White House on Wednesday said President Obama would veto a House bill that would prohibit the IRS from implementing or enforcing the health care law, an unsurprising verdict on congressional Republicans’ latest attempt to dismantle the president’s top legislative achievement.

The Office of Budget and Management said there is no reason the chamber should even bother to vote on the “Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act” this Friday.

“Rather than attempting once again to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which the House has tried nearly 40 times, it is time for the Congress to stop fighting old political battles and join the president in an agenda focused on providing greater economic opportunity and security for middle class families and all those working to get into the middle class,” the OMB said in a statement of administrative policy.

The Treasury, through the IRS, plays a key role in implementing the health care law because it will review income eligibility and dole out tax credits to Americans who qualify for them on state-based insurance markets.

Rep. Tom Price, Georgia Republican, told the House Rules Committee on Wednesday that Americans cannot trust the IRS, after reports it targeted political groups seeking tax-exempt status.

Democrats, led by Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington, said the House GOP majority has conducted a “smear campaign” against the IRS over an “entirely manufactured scandal.”

Their ultimate goal, he contended, was to tie the scandal to Obamacare and deride “a president they don’t like.”

Congressional Republicans say they are fully committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare, even though previous attempts have died in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

But a last-ditch plan to defund the law as part of a government funding bill in September is causing a rift within the party.

Senate conservatives led by Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Marco Rubio of Florida say they must use the threat of a government shutdown to eradicate the health care law before state-based insurance markets begin to enroll Americans on Oct. 1.

GOP leadership has not signed onto the effort, which some Republicans view as counterproductive and destined to fail.

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