- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 15, 2013

Members of Congress sparred Sunday over who would be responsible for a potential government shutdown if Capitol Hill cannot strike a deal that funds the government while either implementing or delaying the new health care law.

Rep. Tom Price, Georgia Republican, said the White House has modified or delayed provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Notably, it put off for one year, to 2015, the employer mandate that requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees to provide health coverage or pay fines.

“We believe it’s only fair for the American people now to have that same delay,” Mr. Price told “Fox News Sunday,” referring to the individual mandate requiring most Americans to hold some form of health insurance starting in 2014.

House GOP leadership has not said how it will handle demands from the chamber’s conservative wing, which says any spending deal cannot include a penny for Obamacare.

But the White House and congressional Democrats say that defunding or delaying President Obama’s signature law as part of any spending bill is a “nonstarter.” They said Republicans’ obsession with Obamacare is leading them to self-destruct.

Mr. Price turned that argument on its head and said Mr. Obama and Democrats are the ones who want to shut down the government by digging in their heels on a health care law that, according to polls, remains unpopular.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Health Care Reform

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, said critics of the law are inflating its problems. For instance, the employer mandate affects only 5 percent of businesses and is “not central to the overall idea behind Obamacare.”

He said Mr. Price “is prepared to shut down the government if we don’t shut down Obamacare for a year.”

On Friday, the White House resisted calls from unions for a carve-out that would help them gain government subsidies to defray the cost of their health plans.

But, Mr. Price said, it is clear that unions were not happy with the law, once they pinpointed what labor leaders have deemed to be “unintended consequences” of the reforms.

“The White House has always picked winners and losers in this,” he told Fox.

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