Republican leaders are moving the fight over the health care law up by a few days, by focusing their demands on negotiations to raise the U.S. debt ceiling rather than on those to keep the government funded beyond Sept. 30.
Oklahoma Republican congressman Tom Cole said after a caucus meeting that Republican leaders now believe the fight over Obamacare should be part of the talks to raise the government's borrowing authority, known as the debt ceiling. That's a change from the previous Republican strategy of folding the attempt to defund Obamacare into the negotiations to avert a government shutdown. Without a new spending bill from Congress, the federal government would run out of money for its day-to-day operations on Oct. 1, triggering a shutdown. “I do not see that happening," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Thursday.
That buys Republicans about two more weeks, until Oct. 17, to get the White House and congressional Democrats to accept their demand that Obamacare be defunded, effectively making the 2010 health care reform void for now and pushing back its implementation.
October 17 is the date when the U.S. Treasury, according to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, will run out of money to pay its creditors and would therefore have to default on interest payments to bondholders. That default could trigger an economic crisis, something Republican leaders now believe they can use as a bargaining chip to force President Barack Obama to delay his signature helath care reform. Obama has already said he will never accept negotiating under the threat of default.
The Republican-controlled House has already approved a plan to keep the government funded beyond the Sept. 30 deadline and until December, provided that Obamacare be defunded. The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to reject that measure -- the 43th Republican attempt to kill the health care reform -- and instead approve a spending bill that funds the law.