This month’s must-pass spending bill gives the GOP another opportunity to try to kill President Obama’s health care law, but most Republican leaders are shying away from that, saying it’s not worth going to the brink of a shutdown over the 3-year-old law.
Last week the House cleared a stopgap funding bill that left money for the health law in place. Congressional conservatives have decried that decision, and have vowed to take a stand when the bill comes to the Senate floor this week.
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, said he’ll offer an amendment to delay funding for the Affordable Care Act until the economy improves, and his bill is winning support from others such as Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who is seen as a potential 2016 presidential candidate.
Whether to attack the three-year-old health law again — and how to mount that attack — is a major topic for the GOP.
Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, will call for eliminating much of the law in his 2014 budget, which he will unveil Tuesday.
But House Republicans have tried, and failed, dozens of times to repeal the health care law. Renewed efforts in both chambers face a nearly impossible route to passage in the face of a Democrat-controlled Senate and Mr. Obama’s veto powers.
“On Sunday, House Republican leader Rep. Paul Ryan announced the GOP intends on wasting even more time trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act — because voting more than 30 times on a dead-end bill to take away Americans’ rights isn’t enough,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, said Monday.
Attempts to rein in Mr. Obama’s contentious law are reigniting debate over the reforms, even though the Supreme Court upheld them in June and the November election put a serious dent in Republican’s hopes to repeal them.
Mr. Cruz said he still wants to eliminate the president’s law. But “at a minimum,” he said, its funding should be delayed until the economy improves.
“I think you always have a prayer,” Mr. Cruz told radio host Bill Bennett on Monday.
On Friday, Mr. Rubio said the continuing resolution is the “perfect opportunity” to debate the health care law again.
“I don’t think there’s been enough attention paid to it,” he told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “It’s been awhile, we’ve moved on to these other issues, but there is … probably nothing more damaging to our economy in the short term than this implementation of ‘Obamacare.’”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, also railed against the law from the chamber’s floor Monday, citing research that suggests premiums will rise for young Americans and that onerous rules will cut jobs. At one point, he used a thick stack of papers as a prop to exhibit the extent of new regulations.
“This law,” he said, “is a disaster waiting to happen.”
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Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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