House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday a "tea party resolution" set for a vote on Friday to avert a government shutdown would devastate health care reforms and investments in jobs, education and research.
Congress must act quickly to pass a continuing resolution that funds federal operations past Sept. 30, but House Speaker John A. Boehner bowed to the right wing of his caucus this week by allowing the chamber to include a provision that defunds President Obama's health care law.
Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said House GOP leadership is being held hostage by its tea party faction — shorthand for its most conservative members — and "playing with fire" by threatening to use the nation's debt limit to extract unlikely concessions from congressional Democrats and President Obama.
Assuming its bid to defund Obamacare fails in the Democrat-controlled Senate, the House GOP plans to seek a one-year delay to the Affordable Care Act as part of any subsequent deal to extend the government's borrowing authority.
"Shutting down the government is one bad thing," she said, noting it can be re-opened. "Not lifting the debt limit is unleashing a torrent, a river of no return."
She said that between her Democratic members and centrist Republicans, the "votes are there" to pass a clean bill that lifts the debt limit.
For his part, Mr. Boehner said Thursday he will not raise the debt limit without extracting some concessions from Mr. Obama.
He said it was wrong of the president to claim Republicans are waging political exhortation by linking the government borrowing authority to an Obamacare delay or spending cuts to reduce the deficit.
"The White House may not get it, but frankly the American people get it," he said.
Mr. Boehner also rejected the suggestion he has lost control of his caucus, arguing the party is "diverse" and that Republicans have historically exhibited an independent streak from time to time. On dismantling Obamacare, he said the House has done its part and it is time for Senate Republicans to do their part.
It's time for them to pick up the mantle and get the job done," he said.
The White House said Thursday that President Obama would veto the continuing resolution under consideration by the House.
A statement of administration policy said the continuing resolution advanced by House GOP leadership "advances a narrow ideological agenda that threatens our economy and the interests of the middle class."
"The resolution would defund the Affordable Care Act, denying millions of hard-working middle class families the security of affordable health coverage," the White House said.
House Democrats said Thursday that Medicare, a prized health program for seniors that's considered a political hot potato in Washington, also would be harmed by GOP's defunding strategy because the health care law established rates for health providers and measures to fight fraud.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee launched a new campaign, the "GOP Shutdown Watch," to assign blame for a potential shutdown to Republican Senate candidates.
The debate is heating up at a critical juncture for the health care law.
In 12 days, Americans without employer-based coverage may begin to enroll in state-based insurance markets, known as exchanges, where they can buy health plans, often with the help of income-based government subsidies.
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