House Republicans met in a rare meeting on Saturday and voted to challenge parts of Obamacare and push it to center stage under the spotlight as Senate Democrats and President Obama struggle to seek bipartisan support of a temporary stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown before midnight on Monday.
The decision by Congressional Republicans to move further to the right within their Republican base and appeal to Tea Party’s demands by confronting Obamacare head on will likely delay the passage of the temporary spending bill that has been bounced back and forth on Capitol Hill with no end in sight.
House Republicans were originally asked on Saturday to approve a Senate amended spending bill that Senate leaders had sent back to them late on Friday which stripped away House inspired legislation that tied the passage of the temporary stopgap spending bill to the defunding of Obamacare, a political tactic that rattled many Democrats, including President Obama.
In a 231 to 192 vote on Saturday, House Republicans voted to re-amend the stopgap spending bill and send it back to the Senate on Monday loaded with new legislation that includes a one year delay of certain parts of Obamacare along with a repeal of a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices that varies from CT scans to hearing aids.
The amendment also loosens requirements for insurance policies to fully cover contraception and permits businesses to determine whether to offer birth control coverage to their own employees.
Another House approved measure to guarantee that U.S. troops will be paid during a government shutdown was also passed.
The Obama administration released a statement on Saturday criticizing Congressional Republicans for pushing the government towards a shutdown:
The Senate acted in a responsible manner on a short-term funding measure to maintain Government functions and avoid a damaging Government shutdown. Rather then taking up that legislation, the House proposes amendments that advance a narrow ideological agenda and threaten the Nation’s economy. By including extraneous measures that have no place in a government funding bill and that the President and Senate already made clear are unacceptable , House Republicans are pushing the Government toward shutdown.”
President Obama issued a veto threat.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) wasted little time on Saturday explaining what would happen to the re-amended spending bill once it arrives back in the Senate on Monday.
“To be absolutely clear, the Senate will reject both the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the medical device tax, Reid wrote in a statement.
“After weeks of futile political games from Republicans, we are still at square one: Republicans must decide whether to pass the Senate’s clean CR (continuing resolution), or force a Republican government shutdown” Reid added.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) tweeted the following message on his twitter account: “House has acted again to keep gov’t open & protect Americans from the
#ObamaCare train wreck.”
A recent New York Times/CBS poll asked how Americans feel about a possible government shutdown.
The poll results show that 87 percent feel frustrated with only 10 percent feeling satisfied.
Last Wednesday Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx), a Tea Party favorite, generated some national attention when he engaged in a 21 hour tirade against Obamacare in the Senate, slowed the Senate vote, and caused some establishment Republican leaders to distance themselves from his political message.
The vote by Congressional Republicans on Saturday to challenge the implementation of Obamacare and re-amend the stopgap spending bill by sending it back to the Senate reveals that the majority of House Republicans believe that Obamacare is unpopular with the majority of the American public and underscores their conservative convictions to fight against it even if their political maneuvering leads to the government shutting down and could prove to be costly during the upcoming midterm elections next year.