House Republicans voted early Sunday morning (231–192) to continue funding the government in exchange for delaying President Barack Obama’s health care law — a plan that will meet resistance in the Democratic Senate and brings the country one step closer to a likely government shutdown.
The plan revealed by Republicans on Saturday funds the government through Dec. 15 at current spending levels and will delay the implementation of Obamacare for one year, while also repealing the tax on medical devices that helps fund the law. Republicans also unanimously passed a stand-alone bill allowing military payments to proceed in case of a shutdown when government funding is set to expire Tuesday.
Earlier on Saturday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney issued a statement threatening to veto the House bill, claiming that House Republicans are moving to shut down the government. “Congress has two jobs to do: pass budgets and pay the bills it has racked up. Republicans in Congress had the opportunity to pass a routine, simple continuing resolution that keeps the government running for a few more weeks. But instead, Republicans decided they would rather make an ideological point by demanding the sabotage of the health care law.”
Shortly thereafter the Obama administration issued a formal veto threat, urging the House to pass the Senate’s version of the bill. “Rather than taking up [the Senate] legislation, the House proposes amendments that advance a narrow ideological agenda and threaten the Nation’s economy. By including extraneous measures that have no place in a government funding bill and that the President and Senate already made clear are unacceptable, House Republicans are pushing the Government toward shutdown.”
Before the bill was brought to the House floor, Republicans seemed to reject the notion that a government shutdown would be their fault, or that there would be any political consequences.
“I’m just going to say, ‘hold the line,’” Iowa Rep. Steve King told TIME before the House GOP unveiled the proposal at a conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Saturday. “They’re afraid of a political penalty — history doesn’t show that.”
When asked if he was worried about a government shutdown, King said: “If we don’t do the right thing it’ll result in the implementation of Obamacare, that’s my fear.”
Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton, who is trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, shot back when asked whether the plan would hurt him in his Senate race.
“We’re not shutting the government down,” he said. “We are fully funding the government. We’re simply stopping Obamacare to go into effect for one year — and it’s clearly not ready to go into effect.”
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said that party leadership didn’t need to whip the bill, and that he didn’t see anyone stand up against the proposal in the conference meeting.
But Obama reiterated his stance on Friday that the health care law is not on the table. Senate Democratic leadership has repeatedly said that Obamacare is the law and not a negotiating point, but they left open the possibility of a one-week extension to fund the government to continue deliberations. That idea was not raised in the conference meeting, Nunes said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the White House on Thursday opposed efforts to eliminate a 2.3% tax on medical devices that helps fund Obamacare. Earlier this year, the Senate voted 79–20 on a non-binding resolution to repeal the measure.
The vote Saturday was the 43rd time the House has voted to repeal or otherwise undermine Obamacare.