Obamacare Chess Game

by Grace-Marie Turner

The internecine battles over defunding Obamacare consumed far too much of the August recess, but the House is back with a plan that could put this conflict to rest and get conservatives back on the same side in fighting the destructive health law.

The Heritage Foundation and its sister organization, Heritage Action, are demanding legislation that, as Heritage’s website says, would “Allow Congress to consider Obamacare funding separately from regular government functions—there’s no need for a government shutdown.”

The Republican leadership on Tuesday outlined a strategy in a meeting with members to do just that. They proposed a plan to fund the government through mid-December while forcing the Senate to vote on defunding Obamacare.

But the proposal already is facing blowback from those who say it doesn’t go far enough.

“There’s going to be tremendous pressure on the conference to vote against this idea,” said Representative John Fleming (R., La.), who said he would not support the budget bill.

We need a few more chess players in Congress who can understand the long view, people like Representative Tim Griffin of Arkansas who said he is inclined to support the budget strategy. “By and large, people understand Obamacare is not our creation,” Griffin said. “We’re doing the best we can to stop this, and this may be our best option.”

Republicans have little hope of winning the battle to stop Obamacare, but they could win a one-year delay if they are strategic. There are other battles to come in the fall that would present a riper target. But they need to spend the time between now and then focusing on the avalanche of problems with the health law to build momentum for delay.

The House continuing resolution that could be voted on as early as tomorrow would keep the government funded, preserving sequester levels of spending, and advance a proposal to provide full defunding of Obamacare.

Parliamentary maneuvers would call the Senate’s hand on a vote by forcing them to consider the defunding language before voting on the continuing-resolution package. And if the Senate were to approve defunding, it would become part of the final continuing resolution that goes to the president.

Americans for Tax Reform is the first group to issue a statement supporting this strategy.

“The CR preserves the sequester caps while allowing lawmakers to finish their work on spending bills for FY 2014,” according to ATR’s tax and health-policy expert Ryan Ellis.

“Over the summer, dozens of free market groups and over sixty Members of Congress went on record urging the House to send the Senate a CR that defunds Obamacare. The CR strategy unveiled this week does just that,” he wrote in a blog post.  “The House will take a single vote on a CR that has language defunding the Obamacare law.

“Any substantive hope for Obamacare defunding has always rested with the Senate,” Ellis said. “Now the American people will get their chance to hold their elected officials accountable. It’s up to the Senate to act.”

Posted on National Review Online September 11, 2013

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