*UPDATED with Boehner audio
*UPDATED with letter from Bachmann and King
Republicans ran their 2010 mid-term campaigns on chiefly the promise that the Democratic health care law would eventually be repealed, but in the meantime, de-funding the entire health care legislation would have to be a way to at least slow down the implementation of the law. H.R. 1 promised to accomplish the de-funding of Obamacare, but according to discoveries made by former Republican Oklahoma Congressman now a distinguish fellow at the Heritage Foundation Ernest Istook, the health care bill has a mandatory appropriation that would fund the legislation almost a decade into the future.
Mr. Istook’s testimony on Wednesday about the matter revealed disturbing hidden funding that will make the health care legislation have life:(bolding is mine)
The massive 2,700-page health care law is deliberately designed to make defunding and dismantlement difficult. Although original estimates reported that it created 159 new government agencies, the Congressional Research Service later concluded that the actual number of new agencies, boards, etc., “is currently unknowable,” because so many of them are empowered to spawn additional entities, just as weeds grow by sending out runners and seeds.
The complexity and confusion extends to the funding process created in that legislation.
The new law attempts to bypass the normal appropriations process, another feature that makes defunding more difficult. By making advance appropriations for tens of billions of dollars up to the year 2019, these provisions of Obamacare seek to remove spending decisions from the reach of the current Congress and from future Congresses and Presidents. Although Obamacare was not pitched to the public as a mandatory spending entitlement, the details of the legislation reveal an intent to block any future Congress from controlling Obamacare’s spending.
One largely unknown fact is that $6-billion or more was immediately appropriated in the new law and approximately $105-billion more was appropriated for FY2011 and beyond. That violates the typical Congressional process of appropriations. The normal process typically involves enacting authorization bills that authorize spending, and then follows those with separate legislation that actually appropriates the money. This enables those to be balanced with other spending decisions. The PPACA contained large authorizations for future appropriations as well as containing these actual appropriations. That made it quite different from most bills, even major legislation.
This funding also stayed below the radar screen because it was so often reported—inaccurately—that Congress had not passed any appropriations for the current fiscal year. Obviously, the last Congress chose to fund Obamacare even though they failed to pass any of the regular appropriations bills.
For those who support that new law, this may present no problem. But the process should nevertheless offend their sense of an open, well-publicized and orderly process. The funding of Obamacare is a major concern for those many Americans– including me–who consider the law unwise, unaffordable, and detrimental to affordable and quality health care.
To de-fund Obamacare, it is insufficient simply to deny future funding. Until the full law can be repealed, at least the existing and advance appropriations need to be rescinded, just as the House last month voted to repeal billions of dollars from previous appropriations to 123 federal programs. An effort to restrict use of the funds appropriated within Obamacare was thwarted because the House did not waive the same point of order (House Rule XXI) as it waived to allow de-funding those 123 other programs. This was most unfortunate.
To any who do not realize that over $105-billion has already been appropriated to fund Obamacare, I direct your attention to the February 10, 2011, revision of the Congressional Research Service’s paper, “Appropriations and Fund Transfers in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA),” CRS number R41301. It documents the specific provisions that I’m discussing and the magnitude of those advance appropriations.
Republican leadership appears to be vague about why Republicans did not bother to vote on rescinding the $105 billion dollar mandatory appropriation. Some argue that the fact the appropriation for the healthcare bill is mandatory and cannot be rescinded is not sitting well with conservatives, because as Mr. Istook points out in his testimony above, “The House last month voted to repeal billions of dollars from previous appropriations to 123 federal programs.” All those appropriations were mandatory as well.
House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican, believes rescinding appropriations in the healthcare bill can be done through committee. He told me on Thursday afternoon, “We made it pretty clear of that when we put Obamacare on the floor and the House passed the repeal of that bill. We’re going through regular order. I would expect that the committees of proper jurisdiction will bring forward the bill to eliminate mandatory spending that is involved in that bill.” AUDIO
Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, and Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, sent a letter to House GOP leadership on Thursday requesting that the health care appropriation be removed:
Dear Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, and Chairman Rogers,
We very much appreciate your leadership in bringing H.R. 2 to the floor, which resulted in a unanimous Republican vote to repeal ObamaCare. This was an essential step in achieving our universal Republican goal to bring about the final, 100% repeal of this law. No strategy to accomplish this goal could succeed without this House vote.
From the moment legislation to repeal ObamaCare was first introduced, it has been widely discussed that a successful repeal strategy would center on first winning a Republican majority in the House, then holding a clean, up or down vote on repeal, and then prohibiting funding for the implementation or enforcement of ObamaCare. We must ensure that this strategy remains on track and on schedule.
The success of our effort to shut off funding for ObamaCare will hinge on the leverage points of this first session of the 112th Congress - namely the CR, which expires on March 18th, and the vote on raising the debt ceiling. We recognize the work to defund ObamaCare began with the inclusion of language in H.R. 1 to restrict annual appropriations from being used to implement the law. However, we also recognize that even this language, if enacted, leaves on the table $105.5 billion in automatically appropriated funds for the law’s implementation. We cannot successfully defund ObamaCare without shutting off these automatically appropriated funds.
While some have argued that our defunding efforts in the CR should be limited only to those annual funds actually provided by the CR, we disagree. If we do not stand our ground on the CR, leverage it as the “must pass bill” that it is, and use it to stop the $105.5 billion in automatically appropriated funds, ObamaCare will be implemented on our watch, we will have conceded a significant amount of ground on this issue, and we will find it difficult, if not impossible, to regain the strategic advantage in future legislative vehicles.
Consequently, we ask that the following language, or more effective language, be added to the FY11 CR to cut off both the annual and automatic appropriations for ObamaCare’s implementation: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, none of the funds made available by this or any previous Act with respect to any fiscal year may be used to carry out the provisions of Public Law 111-148, Public Law 111-152, or any amendment made by either such Public Law.”
It is essential that the above language be included in the CR. We, the undersigned, will not vote in support of a continuing resolution that is void of this crucial funding prohibition.