By a vote of 241 to 187 the House of Representatives approved an amendment by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to block the funding of Obamacare.
The vote, which included a number of Democrats, can deprive the administration of appropriations to carry out implementation of the law. Estimates are that the mere administrative start up of Obamacare will cost $105 billion.
King’s amendment was attached to the main spending bill to allow the government to operate for the balance of the fiscal year. The current funding bill expires on March 4. Once the full funding bill with all amendments are passed, it goes to the Senate. The Senate either has to pass the bill by March 4 or the government could be without funding and be forced to shut down.
While Republicans already passed a bill to repeal Obamacare, that bill is likely to stall in the Senate. However, the government depends on funding bills to function. It cannot die and will have to be enacted by the Senate in some form. In prior years, differences between House and Senate versions could be worked out in a joint conference of both bodies. But with a March 4 deadline looming that option is not likely.
King’s bill was not assured however. Some House Republican leaders opposed it, arguing that a funding bill should be restricted to funding issues and not to legislative remedies. However, the House has in the past passed legislative riders to funding bills and today he prevailed.
The adding of highly unappealing amendments to the funding bill may make Democrats balk at the passage of it at all, forcing a shut down of the federal government, except for its most essential elements. Earlier today House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in a private meeting with her key lieutenants was quoted as saying that she thought a government shutdown was likely.
Democrats remember the last government shutdown when Newt Gingrich was Speaker. The images of the closure of national parks, museums and health clinics caused public revulsion. Pelosi and her allies appear to be calculating that such a shut down might be a remedy for sagging political support.
However, today’s passage was a big win for Rep. King, who was dogged in his insistence for a vote.