The House of Representatives passed a 2014 continuing resolution Friday with a vote of 230 to 189. The $986.3 billion stopgap bill would fund the government until Dec. 15, preventing a government shutdown, but it's expected to be dead on arrival in the Senate, as it also defunds the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
It was the 42nd vote the GOP has taken to repeal the new health care law. The Senate is expected to restore funding and return the bill to the House. If lawmakers cannot agree on a funding measure by Sept. 30, there will be a government shutdown on Oct. 1.
Earlier this week, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced plans to move forward with a vote on a bill with language to defund Obamacare after the hard right within his caucus opposed having a “clean” resolution with a defund bill as a rider.
Boehner’s strategy was met with fierce opposition from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and high-ranking Senate Democrats on Thursday, who criticized the bill as a partisan measure containing purely ideological intents that they say will get nowhere. Democrats vowed that Obamacare, the signature first-term achievement of President Barack Obama’s presidency, will not be repealed or defunded.
Still, Republicans are standing firm.
At Friday’s debate, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., rose to support the resolution, saying he and his colleagues are fighting to give American families the same relief the president has given to businesses by accepting a one-year delay in the mandate that employers must provide insurance.
Scalise told the chamber that Louisiana families are facing a 50 percent increase in their health care premiums.
“It’s time this House takes action and then the Senate takes action as well,” he said.
Also in support of the bill, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the resolution will keep the government open while not increasing spending “while Congress continues working on a real budget.”
But House Democrats like Rep. Eric Swalwell of California have called upon Republicans to “wake up from their radical, ideological wet dream” and oppose the bill.
A cancer survivor, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, accused Republicans of toying with people’s lives.
“These members have health insurance,” a visibly irate DeLauro said. “Members of Congress have health insurance. People in this nation can’t afford health insurance, but they would cut it off, make it impossible. ... This is not a game. We are talking about people’s lives. We have a moral responsibility.”
On the floor Friday, Pelosi criticized the chamber for being in a “mess” and asked that legislators “get our house in order.”
“What is brought to the floor today is without a doubt a measure designed to shut down government,” she said. “It could have no other intent. Its purpose is clear. And if our colleagues on the Republican side deny that, then they have no idea of the gravity of the situation. ... It is a wolf in wolf’s clothing.”
Laura is a U.S. politics reporter for the International Business Times. She was always fascinated by the BBC World News each morning on the radio in Jamaica. That, and a love...