Congressional Democrats rejected GOP efforts Thursday to delay or curtail funding for President Obama’s health-care initiative, saying the strategy to block implementation of the law would lead to a government shutdown or a default.
Republicans have rallied to the idea of delaying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as their main point of leverage. Some conservative groups have been pushing the idea of using government-funding legislation as a vehicle to strip away money for implementing the health-care law. But GOP leaders have tried to talk rank-and-file members out of that approach and instead have been pushing the idea of delaying some major pieces of the legislation.
That approach ran into fierce Democratic opposition Thursday when Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) told House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) that Democrats had no intention of slowing the implementation of Obama’s landmark domestic policy achievement.
“I told him very directly that all these things they’re trying to do on the Obamacare is just a waste of their time,” Reid told reporters after the meeting.
The go-slow GOP strategy is designed to prevent a government shutdown, which would begin Oct. 1 unless Congress approves a new funding vehicle, and to avoid a showdown on the bid to increase the federal debt limit by mid-October. After several months of using extraordinary measures to keep the government afloat, the Treasury will run short of cash as soon as Oct. 18, according to independent estimates.
GOP leaders have been on the defensive for weeks after outside conservative groups began a campaign to try to force a showdown by attaching language to defund the health-care law to legislation that would provide money to keep federal agencies open. With Obama and Democrats opposed, senior Republicans say that such a strategy would lead to a government shutdown for which Republicans would pay a political price.
But many Republicans objected to Boehner’s initial plan to push through legislation that would extend current government funding levels to mid-December and attach a rider that would strip money for the health-care law — but one that the Senate would easily remove so it could send a clean funding extension to president.