Hoping to put the onus back onto the Senate, the House of Representatives on Friday night passed two amendments to the pending Continuing Resolutions bill: one to repeal the Obamacare tax on medical devices (248-174) and the other to delay implementation of the controversial law for a year (231-192). As they were being passed, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remained adamant that the Democrat-controlled Senate would not pass anything that changed Obamacare in any way. Reid even resisted calls by the Republican House leadership to schedule a Saturday vote, instead putting it off until Monday afternoon.
The White House was equally adamant that even if somehow a bill passed the Senate that modified Obamacare in any way, the president would veto it. White House press secretary Jay Carney tried to pin the blame on the House Republicans, saying they were wasting their time with such measures:
Republicans decided they would rather make an ideological point by demanding the sabotage of the health care law. Republicans have tried and failed to defund or delay the health care law more than 40 times, and they know this demand is reckless and irresponsible…
Any member of the Republican Party who votes for this bill is voting for a [government] shutdown. It’s time for the House to listen to the American people, and act…
That seems to be the problem. There are enough House members who, fresh from town hall meetings across the country, are in fact listening to their constituents and who are willing to incur the wrath of Republican Party leadership to force the issue, even if it involves the shutting down of part of the national government.
Once the Senate convenes and votes to table the latest House measure, the issue will return once again to the House. Time is running out but there appears to be little appetite for further compromise by the small but determined cadre of conservatives unwilling to cave.
Republicans in the House have already compromised on previous amendments to the CR, including allowing government spending on the military to continue in the event of a shutdown along with workers at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and outside military contractors, and continuing to fund the controversial Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) which has been widely criticized as being “flawed,” “unethical,” “unelected,” “unrepresentative” and “unaccountable.” Nevertheless the stubborn cadre was willing to give way on those in order to concentrate on the tax on medical devices and delaying the individual mandate for a year.
But House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy from California (and not a member of the Tea Party Caucus) is promising to offer a “few other options” when the Senate bill returns to the House on Monday in an effort to make it palatable to the obstructionists.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made it clear, however, that anything that touches Obamacare will be rejected out of hand: “We are going to accept nothing [from the House] that relates to Obamacare. There’s a time and a place for everything and this is not that time or place.”
Just two weeks ago polls showed the public in favor of shutting down the government to force spending cuts, 53 to 37, but as the deadline draws nearer, many are losing their courage. Rasmussen’s poll over the weekend shows a massive shift with support for such a shutdown dropping to even, 45 to 46. The real question is whether stalwarts opposing Republican leadership in the House and remaining determined in their opposition to funding Obamacare will maintain that opposition through the next few days.
In other words, Americans are about to learn just how many members of the House are real constitutionalists and how many are just parading around in Tea Party costumes.