WASHINGTON — The House answered the Senate’s stripped-down version of their continuing resolution with amendments that delayed the implementation of Obamacare for a year and permanently repealed the medical device tax.
The revamped bill also included language targeting the contraceptive coverage mandate, allowing companies to opt out of the controversial coverage for moral or religious reasons. Republicans also shifted the Nov. 15 expiration set by Senate Democrats in the CR back to Dec. 15.
The White House issued a veto threat before the nighttime debate even began on the House floor.
“The Senate acted in a responsible manner on a short-term funding measure to maintain Government functions and avoid a damaging Government shutdown. Rather than 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,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said “Congress has two jobs to do: pass budgets and pay the bills it has racked up.”
“Republicans in Congress had the opportunity to pass a routine, simple continuing resolution that keeps the government running for a few more weeks. But instead, Republicans decided they would rather make an ideological point by demanding the sabotage of the health care law,” Carney continued. “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. The President has shown that he is willing to improve the health care law and meet Republicans more than halfway to deal with our fiscal challenges, but he will not do so under threats of a government shutdown that will hurt our economy.”
President Obama went golfing for four hours at Fort Belvoir today.
“The American people don’t want a government shutdown and they don’t want ObamaCare,” House GOP leaders said in a joint statement before the vote. “We will do our job and send this bill over, and then it’s up to the Senate to pass it and stop a government shutdown.”
Offering the medical device tax repeal put some Democrats in a tough spot as many are on the record as supporting the idea.
A bill introduced in February by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to repeal the excise tax on medical device manufacturers and importers includes Democratic co-sponsors Bob Casey (Pa.), Al Franken (Minn.), Kay Hagan (N.C.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.).
A Democratic bill in the House this year tied the repeal of the medical device tax to eliminating tax credits for oil companies. Yet a whopping 263 members, including Dems such as Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), signed on as co-sponsors to a clean bill from Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) for straight repeal.
Today’s amendment passed 248-174, with 17 Democrats crossing over to vote with Republicans.
The second amendment, delaying Obamacare’s implementation for a year, passed 231-192 with two Democrats crossing party lines as well as two Republicans.
Republicans Mike Coffman (Colo.) and Louie Gohmert (Texas) offered a bill to continue pay to 1.4 million military members regardless of a government shutdown.
“Our troops should not suffer for Washington’s failure to act,” said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.).
That passed 423-0, even though some lawmakers complained on the floor that other categories of government workers weren’t included.
The mood in the GOP caucus was said to be buoyant, with cheering heard as the party came together on a strategy and took it to the Rules Committee.
The clause on the contraceptive mandate was likely offered to conservatives disappointed that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would seek a delay instead of full repeal. Twenty-one House members signed on to a letter two days ago urging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to stand with Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in opposing cloture on the continuing resolution.
Republican members of the Senate who allowed cloture on the original House bill yet voted against the bill after Democrats stripped the Obamacare repeal praised the House for its latest move.
“Today conservatives in the House took decisive action to keep the government open, delay a law clearly not ready for primetime, and repeal an onerous, job-killing tax that has overwhelming bipartisan opposition in the Senate,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said.
“If Senate Democrats force a shutdown by refusing to support these reasonable proposals, both of which their members have previously backed, then it will be clear who the real extremists in this Congress are.”
Senators were told to stay within a couple hours of D.C. over the weekend in case they needed to come back for a vote.
“Once again House Republicans have found a way to mount an ideological attack on women’s health as the clock ticks down on a crisis they created,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). “This is part of the right-wing playbook that’s going nowhere in the Senate. The truly unconscionable thing is that Republicans would try to rob women of access to health care while holding our economy hostage.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has vowed to not consider any continuing resolution that includes Obamacare, even a compromise from the total scrapping of the law sought by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Cruz.
“It is important to note that these Tea Party obstructionists do not represent mainstream Republicans – either mainstream Republicans in Congress or mainstream Republicans in our great country. But unfortunately, their grip on the rudder of the Republican Party is firm. For the last few years, these radicals in the House and the Senate have driven America from crisis to crisis, leaving a trail of economic destruction behind them. And now they have taken the United States government hostage and demanded an impossible ransom: that Democrats repeal the law of this land – Obamacare,” Reid said on the floor Friday. “…Can we overcome the modern-day anarchists?”