WASHINGTON - Congressional Republicans showed no signs Sunday of
relenting on their efforts to dismantle President Obama's health care
law on a stopgap funding bill, setting the course for the first
government shutdown in 17 years starting Tuesday.
people overwhelmingly reject Obamacare. They understand it's not
working. The only people who aren't listening to the argument are the
career politicians in Washington," said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on NBC's
Meet the Press.
Cruz, who led a 21-hour filibuster-style
speech against the health care law, has been a leading GOP advocate for
using the stopgap measure as leverage to extract concessions on the
Affordable Care Act, which begins open enrollment for the health care
insurance exchanges on Oct. 1.
Cruz joined a chorus of GOP lawmakers on Sunday talk shows who sought
to spread the political blame to President Obama and Senate Democrats
if a shutdown occurs. "(Democrats) are the ones playing games. They need
to act. They're the ones that are truly threatening a government
shutdown by not being here and acting," said Rep. Cathy McMorris
Rodgers, R-Wash., the fourth-ranking House Republican.
voted Friday to approve a stopgap funding measure through Nov. 15 after a
week of debate. On Saturday, the House made a second attempt at
dismantling the health law after their first attempt to remove spending
for it in the funding bill failed.
The House approved 231-192 an
amendment to delay implementation for one year, as well as an amendment
to repeal a 2.3% tax on medical devices enacted to help pay for the law.
The medical device tax is expected to raise $29 billion over 10 years.
The House also voted to extend the length of the stopgap bill to Dec.
15, and approved a separate bill to make sure U.S. troops continue to
get paid in the event of a shutdown.
House Speaker John Boehner,
R-Ohio, released a statement calling on the Senate to come in to session
on Sunday to act on the House-passed amendments. "If the Senate stalls
until Monday afternoon instead of working today, it would be an act of
breathtaking arrogance by the Senate Democratic leadership." The Senate
is scheduled to return Monday at 2 p.m. ET.
Many parts of the 2010 health care law have already been implemented,
including discounts for prescription medications and the provision
allowing children under 26 to remain on their parents' health insurance
policies. On Tuesday, the state websites where uninsured Americans can
shop for and buy health insurance will open. Those without health
insurance will be required to buy it or pay a penalty; those whose
income is up to 400% of the poverty level will receive a federal subsidy
to help pay for the insurance.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,
D-Nev., said the House's action was "pointless" and White House
spokesman Jay Carney said it was "reckless and irresponsible" because
Obama has already said he will veto any attempt to delay or defund the
law in the unlikely event it reaches his desk.
Senate rules allow
Reid to knock down the two amendments with one motion to table, which
needs only 51 votes and cannot be blocked by Republicans.
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Sunday that Republicans
were readying a third attempt on Monday if Reid rejects the amendments,
"I think the House will get back together in enough
time, send another provision not to shut the government down, but to
fund it, and it will have a few other options in there for the Senate to
look at again," McCarthy told Fox News Sunday.
House Republicans' options on the eve of a shutdown are limited. The
House could advance a stopgap bill that keeps the government open for a
week to keep the health care fight going and the government funded.
Republicans could also attempt to advance another provision affecting
the health care law, but there is no sign it would meet a different fate
in the Senate.
Boehner could put the "clean" Senate-passed funding bill on the House
floor where it would likely pass on the support of House Democrats with
some Republicans, but he is under political pressure from conservative
lawmakers and allied outside groups to hold the line.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told CBS's Face the Nation that the Senate will reject the House's latest effort and that he expects a shutdown will occur. "I'm afraid I do," he said.
said Democrats were amendable to finding ways to reform the health care
law, and acknowledged that many Democrats support proposals such as the
medical device tax repeal, but he said the debate should happen
independent of a bill to keep the government running.
support that (debate), but let's sit down in a bipartisan and calm way,
not with the prospect of shutting down the government or shutting down
the economy," he said.