Republicans are hoping Americans will support them in forcing President Barack Obama into a corner over his healthcare reform law, commonly called Obamacare, which Congress passed in 2010. The ultimatum: sign a 2014 continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare or veto it and be responsible for a government shutdown.
That's the essence of a piece that Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio wrote for the conservative political blog RedState. Rubio and 11 other senators sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., last week, announcing they won't back a temporary appropriations bill come Sept. 30 if it funds the healthcare law. A similar push is under way in the House. Congress needs to pass a continuing resolution or a regular budget to fund government agencies next fiscal year in order to avert a shut down.
“I didn’t come to Washington to shut down the federal government; I came to help bring it back to its proper role,” Rubio wrote. “This role should create an environment where America is the easiest and best place in the world to create better paying jobs by starting a business or growing an existing one. One way to do that is by ending failed programs like ObamaCare that hurt our people, waste their money and scare businesses away from opening or growing.”
Rubio said the September debate is the “last best chance” to defund the law as a condition for supporting a spending plan.
“Defunding ObamaCare is a critical first step to preventing all this, and this September, we need the American people to stand with us in demanding that not another cent be spent on implementing ObamaCare,” he added. “At that point, the President will have a decision to make: sign it and keep the government open, or veto it and shut down the government. That’s the decision that should ultimately come to the President’s desk.”
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Under Obamacare, all Americans would be required to obtain health coverage. The bill also expands Medicaid, which Republicans oppose. Under the law, billions of dollars have been set aside to expand the programs in each state so that low-income earners can gain coverage through Medicaid expansion.
Republicans have tried as many as 36 times to repeal the healthcare law, and with Obama choosing to delay the employer mandate for a year, his detractors believe they have found new ground to strike. Republicans argue that Obama can't choose which laws to implement and that the mandate for American families should be delayed as well.
Obama, however, has refused to cave. He told the New York Times that a majority of employers in America do provide health insurance while only a small number are “bad actors.” The president has argued for the law’s implementation, saying it will cover tens of millions and provides an alternative.
When asked by the Times whether it was within his legal authority to unilaterally delay the employer mandate, Obama said he will take whatever administrative steps necessary to do what’s in the best interest of the American people where Congress fails to act.
“And if Congress thinks that what I’ve done is inappropriate or wrong in some fashion, they’re free to make that case,” he added. “But there’s not an action that I take that you don't have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority. Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency. And I don’t think that’s a secret. But ultimately, I’m not concerned about their opinions -- very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers.”