WASHINGTON – Republican leaders hoping to avoid blame for a possible government shutdown next month appear confounded by conservatives’ passion for using fast-approaching deadlines to derail the implementation of President Obama’s health care law.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, conceded Thursday his plan was all but dead for quickly passing a temporary spending bill that also defunds Obamacare, make the Senate vote on each idea separately and then send only the portion for keeping the government open to the White House for the president’s signature.
Meanwhile, a new freelance effort by rank-and-file Republicans to condition keeping the government open or preventing a debt ceiling default on delaying Obamacare for a year hit a brick wall of opposition from Democrats vowing to never let the health care law be delayed or unraveled.
Nonetheless, some Republicans floated the idea of postponing all of the unimplemented portions of the new law for a year — including a requirement that virtually everyone buys health insurance and with new tax subsidies to help many people pay for it — in exchange for raising the government’s borrowing cap and easing tens of billions of dollars in broad, automatic spending cuts.
“Let’s give them something and then we get something in exchange,” Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said.
But the White House vowed again Thursday that it will do everything in its power to protect Obama’s health care law, his most significant accomplishment in office. “We will not accept anything that delays or defunds Obamacare,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
Washington faces two key deadlines in coming weeks. The first is Oct. 1, when a stopgap spending measure will be needed to fund federal agency operations such as employee salaries, equipment and other costs. The other, far more important must-pass measure looms later in October and would increase the government’s borrowing limit so it can pay all of its bills.