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Are House Republicans locked in losing battle over Obamacare?

Posted by Austin Petersen • 19 Sep 2013

 Obama to Veto House Spending Bill

Keith Farrell

                  The Office of Management and Budget released a statement today making official what many already suspected: President Obama will veto the House’s plan to tie a bill providing temporary funding to avoid possible default with one which would defund the president’s Affordable Care Act.  The statement reads that this plan “advances a narrow ideological agenda that threatens our economy and the interests of the middle class.”

With an October 1st debt ceiling deadline fast approaching, House Republicans are threatening to force a “shutdown” of government.  Just what that would result in is debatable, though the biggest fear is that the US will default on its financial obligations.  While some disagree that an American debt default is possible, it is a large gamble to take.  House Republicans think they can force President Obama to defund his own health care plan.  The statement release by OMB today explicitly stated that will not happen.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Despite the warning, Speaker Boehner and House Republicans moved ahead today and are expecting a victory in the House tomorrow for H.J. Res. 59.  While political posturing continues, some previously staunch opponents of “Obamacare” seem to be conceding.  Ted Cruz, the Tea Party Senator from Texas, gave indications Wednesday that he believed the Democrats would have the votes to strip any language about defunding from the bill.  House Republicans reacted with vitriol to Cruz’s remarks.

At some point soon House Republicans are going to be forced to concede this fight.  No matter how horrible the Affordable Care Act may be, they simply do not have viable routes to defund or repeal it.  A shutdown of any kind will likely bring negative public attention to Republicans.  Any default on US financial obligations will have consequences, and Republicans will take the blame.  They simply do not have the political capital to accomplish what they are attempting.  Even with a victory in the House tomorrow, the Democrat controlled Senate will likely strip the language from bill concerning Affordable Care, as Senator Cruz predicts.  And if, by some miracle, the bill does get to Obama’s desk, he will veto it.  Any ensuing standoff would likely be short, and likely result in Republican concession.  The GOP and its constituents may need to save their resources and live to fight another day.