House Speaker John Boehner, in an abrupt turnaround, plans to let Tea Party lawmakers have a vote on de-funding ObamaCare as part of a politically risky strategy which Democrats warn could result in a government shutdown.
GOP leaders unveiled their plan to members on Wednesday morning, teeing up a vote for Friday — the proposed bill would tie the vote to de-fund the health care law to a vote on a stopgap spending bill. Current funding for the government is set to expire at the end of the month, and lawmakers must approve the stopgap bill in order to keep Washington open; conservatives see this as leverage to force a suspension of ObamaCare.
“The law’s a trainwreck,” Boehner said of the Affordable Care Act. “It’s time to protect American families from this unworkable law.”
Effectively, Boehner and his deputies have b
acked off a compromise approach they earlier tried to sell to rank-and-file conservatives. Under that plan, the House would have sent two bills to the Senate — one to de-fund ObamaCare, the other to fund the government. The Senate, then, would have been able to easily bypass the ObamaCare bill and send the spending measure straight to the White House, in turn averting a government shutdown.
But House conservatives revolted, and Boehner now plans to tie the two votes together. Under the plan, funding the government would be conditional on de-funding ObamaCare. It is a concession to House conservatives as well as senators like Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and outside groups like the Heritage Foundation that have demanded Congress use the must-pass budget bill as leverage to derail the health care law.
But it is also undoubtedly risky.
President Obama and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid h
ave warned Republicans not to go down that road, suggesting that they will bear the brunt of the blame if the gambit results in a government shutdown.
Obama blasted Republicans during an interview Tuesday with Telemundo.
“We’re hearing that a certain faction of Republicans, in the House of Representatives in particular are arguing for government shutdown or even a default for the United States of America … if they don’t get 100 percent of what they want,” Obama said.
On Wednesday in Washington, Obama suggested that Republicans have gotten distracted from their original goal of cutting deficits. “We have not seen this in the past, that a budget is contingent on us eliminating a program that was voted on, passed by both chambers of Congress,” Obama said.