Majority Leader Harry Reid is taking a hard-nosed approach
on the latest round of House Republicans efforts to block Obamacare.
Just a half-hour from now, the House of Representatives' Democratic caucus will meet to decide how to respond to the House Republicans' decision to delay
implementation of the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—for one year in exchange for passing a continuing resolution that would maintain federal spending at the current level until Dec. 15. The current Continuing Appropriations Act expires at midnight September 30, and if the continuing resolution is not approved, most of the federal government will shut down.
The delay would give Republicans the chance to use Obamacare as a cudgel in the 2014 mid-term election campaigns, something many of them view as advantageous for maintaining the GOP's House majority or even expanding it.
The House approved a CR Sept. 20. But it defunded Obamacare. The Senate passed the CR this week, but not before stripping out the defunding provision. If the House passes an Obamacare delay, the resolution returns to the Senate. And there, the welcome mat hasn't been lovingly put on the doorstep. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the House GOP's proposal "pointless":
“As I have said repeatedly, the Senate will reject any Republican attempt to force changes to the Affordable Care Act through a mandatory government funding bill or the debt ceiling,” Mr. Reid said in a statement Saturday afternoon.
He continued: “To be absolutely clear, the Senate will reject both the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the medical device tax. After weeks of futile political games from Republicans, we are still at square one: Republicans must decide whether to pass the Senate’s clean CR, or force a Republican government shutdown.
“Senate Democrats have shown that we are willing to debate and vote on a wide range of issues, including efforts to improve the Affordable Care Act. We continue to be willing to debate these issues in a calm and rational atmosphere. But the American people will not be extorted by Tea Party anarchists.”
Unless somebody blinks, and that appears increasinging unlikely, a government shutdown, at least for a few days, now seems all-but-inevitable.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney issued a statement:
“Republicans have tried and failed to defund or delay the health care law more than 40 times, and they know this demand is reckless and irresponsible,” Carney said. “The President has shown that he is willing to improve the health care law and meet Republicans more than halfway to deal with our fiscal challenges, but he will not do so under threats of a government shutdown that will hurt our economy.”
“Any member of the Republican Party who votes for this bill is voting for a shutdown. It's time for the House to listen to the American people and act, as the Senate has, in a reasonable way to pass a bill that keeps the government running and move on.”
3:13 PM PT: The House Rules Committee meeting on these matters can be viewed live here.