News Column

Senate Republicans Split Over 'Defunding Obamacare'

September 24, 2013

News outlets covered the rhetorical skirmishes on the Sunday talk shows, where Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pounded the law and said he has a new strategy to support the House bill, passed Friday.
Chicago Tribune: GOP Sen. Ted Cruz Vows Bid To Block Budget Bill If It Funds Obamacare Republican Sen. Ted Cruz vowed Sunday he would seek to stop legislation to keep the government running unless President Obama agrees to defund the nation's new healthcare law. The potential presidential contender from Texas has taken the lead in the Senate in a politically risky effort that has sparked divisions within the GOP. ... "I believe we should stand our ground," Cruz said on "Fox News Sunday" (Mascaro, 9/22).
The Wall Street Journal: Cruz Vows to Block Bill That Funds Health Law Mr. Cruz said he would ask Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) to require 60 votes for any amendment to the bill. That's a request Mr. Reid is unlikely to grant, since there are 54 members of the Senate's Democratic caucus. Mr. Cruz said his next step would be to try to convince other Republicans to block the bill from coming to the floor. "A vote for cloture is a vote for Obamacare," Mr. Cruz said Sunday (Peterson, 9/22).
The Washington Post: Ted Cruz Offers Plan B For Defunding Obamacare "If Harry Reid kills this bill in this Senate, I think the House should hold its ground and begin passing smaller continuing resolutions one department at a time," Cruz said. "It should start with a continuing resolution focused on the military. "Let's see if Harry Reid is willing to shut down the military just because he wants to force Obamacare on the American people" (Blake, 9/22).
Politico: Ted Cruz's Block-The Vote Strategy The freshman senator has emerged as perhaps the loudest voice in the Republican Party in recent weeks, steering the House toward passing a spending bill that defunds Obamacare. ... Cruz needs 40 additional Republicans out of 46 Republicans in the upper chamber to stand with him. He already has a handful on his side, like Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, but on Thursday several senior Republicans made it clear they'll reject Cruz's requests and won't oppose procedural votes on a bill they support (Everett, 9/20).
The Associated Press: Blame Already Being Cast Over Budget Fight "You know what? If Senate Republicans stand together, we can stop [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid from doing it," Cruz said. But within his own party, Cruz faced skepticism. "It's not a tactic that we can actually carry out and be successful," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla [on CBS' "Face the Nation']. "The answer now in the Senate, by those who propose this strategy, is to filibuster the very bill they said they wanted" (Elliott, 9/22).
The New York Times: Lawmakers Point Fingers Over Budget Deadlock Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, accused Mr. Cruz and Republican leaders of refusing to accept Mr. Obama's re-election in November, which she described as in part a referendum on Mr. Obama's health care law. "I don't think in America we should throw tantrums when we lose elections and threaten to shut down the government and refuse to pay the bills," Ms. McCaskill said on "Fox News Sunday." "The American people had a choice last November. They had a choice between someone who said, 'Repeal Obamacare,' and President Obama." (Schwirtz, 9/22).
NBC News: Cruz Urges GOP Unity To Gut Obamacare As Shutdown Nears Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D- Minn., appearing on NBC's Meet the Press, predicted that in the end there would be no government shutdown because "people of good will come together and do the right thing and stop this political brinksmanship." She also said, "We do not want to re-litigate the battles of Obamacare again. The House and Senate passed it, the president signed it into law, the (Supreme) Court upheld it. And will there be changes in the future? Yes, but the answer is not to defund it" on a must-pass spending bill (Curry, 9/22).
Politico: Pelosi Acknowledges Obamacare Messaging Is Inadequate House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says the benefits of Obamacare for Americans and overall health care costs have not been communicated as effectively as they could have been. "It's about wellness, it's about prevention, it's about a healthier America," the California Democrat said in an interview aired Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" about President Barack Obama's signature health care law, adding that cost reductions would become clearer over time. "Has that message gotten out? Obviously not adequately." ... There is no chance, she said, Democrats will agree to delay implementation of the law, set to kick into high gear with open enrollment beginning Oct. 1 (Titus, 9/22).
The Hill: Pelosi: Republicans Would Consider A Government Shutdown A 'Victory' Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," Pelosi said "anti-government ideologues" in the House GOP desire a shutdown, as evidenced by legislation the lower chamber passed on Friday that would keep the government running to mid-December but defund ObamaCare (Bogardus, 9/22).
Reuters: Democrats, Republicans Expect To Avert U.S. Government Shutdown That bill is now before the Senate, where Democrats that control the chamber vow to remove the provision to defund Obamacare this week and return the measure to the House to sign off on it. It would then by up to House Speaker John Boehner and his Republicans to decide what to do - with time running short. House Republicans could approve the Senate-passed bill, clearing the way for Obama to sign it into law, or reject it, triggering a shutdown. Another option in the House would be for Republicans to attach new conditions to the bill, such as a possible delay in implementation of Obamacare, and send it back to the Senate for its concurrence. (Ferraro, 9/22).

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