House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington Aug. 1.
(Photo: J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press)
WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) -- House Republicans will vote Friday on a stopgap spending
measure that defunds President Obama's health care law, setting up a
confrontation with Democrats that could force a government shutdown at
the end of the month.
"The law is a train wreck," House Speaker
John Boehner, R-Ohio, said after a closed-door meeting Wednesday in
which the leadership briefed lawmakers on their plan to approve a
spending bill through Dec. 15 that includes legislation to defund the
health care law as well as legislation to prioritize debt payments if
Congress does not raise the nation's debt ceiling by mid-October.
leaders were forced to include stricter defunding language in the
spending bill after conservatives made clear they would not support a
bill that did not specifically cut funding for the health care law. "We
listened to our colleagues over the course of the last week. We have a
plan that they're happy with. We're going forward," Boehner said.
outcome is likely to be the same: Senate Democrats will reject the
language regarding the health care law and return to the House a
spending measure without strings attached to keep the government
running. Whether or not the House approves the returned measure will
determine whether the government will begin shutdown protocols on Oct 1.
Republicans have decided to pursue a path away from the center, away
from compromise," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday,
calling the House GOP's latest budget plan one that increases the
chances for "a wholly unnecessary and damaging shutdown of the
Boehner said Republicans are not seeking a
shutdown but want to use the budget deadlines to extract additional
fiscal changes from Democrats. "There should be no conversation about
shutting the government down," Boehner said, "That's not the goal here.
Our goal here is to cut spending and to protect the American people from
Obamacare. It's as simple as that."
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., also
said a shutdown was not in the GOP's interest, but said Republicans want
to force action in the Senate on the health care law. "We have some
leverage there," he said, "We have some Democratic vulnerabilities. We
have a lot of Democrats who don't want to have to vote on this, and that
frankly might want to work with us in some way to not have to face that
choice, but we'll never know that if we can't get the vehicle over
there to them to have a chance to deal with it."
The GOP plan is
twofold. After the vote on the spending bill this week, House
Republicans will vote as early as next week on a legislative package to
raise the nation's borrowing limit for one year in exchange for delaying
the implementation of the health care law, an agreement to begin
construction of the Keystone oil pipeline, and measures to overhaul the
tax code and lower energy prices, among others, said Majority Leader
Eric Cantor, R-Va.
The House is scheduled to be in recess next
week, but GOP leaders have warned lawmakers that the break could be
canceled to address the budget deadlines. Republicans emerging from
Wednesday's meeting with the understanding that the tougher showdown is
likely to come on the debt ceiling vote.
"Our perception is the debt ceiling is where the success will be," said Rep. John Fleming, R-La.
Democrats and the White House have so far held firm that they will not
negotiate with Republicans on either the stopgap spending measure or the
debt ceiling vote. Obama reiterated that pledge Wednesday in a speech
before the Business Roundtable, which represents the nation's top
"We're not going to set up a situation where the full
faith and credit of the United States is put on the table every year or
every year and a half and we go through some sort of terrifying
financial brinksmanship because of some ideological arguments that
people are having about some particular issue of the day. We're not
going to do that," Obama said.