House Prepared to Vote on Funding, Obamacare Cut

BY Terence Burlij  September 20, 2013 at 8:47 AM EDT


Photo of Tom DeLay at the Capitol by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

You’ve gotta wonder what Tom DeLay must think of all this.
The Morning Line

As the former House majority leader known for strong arm tactics to get his party’s way visited the chamber Thursday following the surprise overturning of his political corruption conviction, House Republican lawmakers forged ahead with a plan to temporarily fund the government and squeeze the money from implementation of the president’s health care law.

It’s a compromise worked out by House Speaker John Boehner after a disastrous first attempt that backfired last week and sent conservatives into near revolt, but it does not solve some of the problems fracturing Boehner’s GOP.

And Friday’s vote will set up a showdown — again — with Senate Democrats and the president.

But there’s little drama happening on the House floor Friday. All indications are that the new Republican measure will pass, since Boehner was able to shift most of the fight to the next issue plaguing Washington, whether to lift the nation’s debt ceiling. The first test vote outlining rules for the debate passed Thursday 232 to 192.

President Barack Obama made clear he will veto the House bill should it ever reach him intact. Then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made clear, in no uncertain terms, that just won’t happen.

“In case there’s any shred of doubt in the minds of our House counterparts, I want to be absolutely crystal clear: Any bill that defunds Obamacare is dead, dead,” Reid told reporters on Thursday.

Senators expect to spend the bulk of the week arguing about the spending resolution and health care funding. The president may huddle with party leaders on Thursday.

The Hill’s Alexander Bolton sheds some light on how the Senate might move forward with the spending measure, including the process by which they could strip out the health care language.

And leaders dropped hints that lawmakers should cancel anything they have planned for next weekend. The current resolution funding the government expires at midnight one week from Monday.

On Oct. 1, it’s a new fiscal year, and the exchanges created by the president’s health care law, by the way, begin in full force.

Boehner may have avoided a major fight this time, but there is plenty of party infighting over strategy going forward.

Former vice presidential nominee Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the Budget Committee, told Politico there is “palpable” frustration among his fellow Republicans.

“You mean about how they’re saying we’re not going to fight, and back at you, we’re not going to fight but forget about what we said earlier?,” Ryan said. “We all believe the same thing, we all want to achieve the same goal, and so we shouldn’t be questioning each other’s conservatism over tactical disagreements.”

Boehner told reporters Thursday that Senate Republicans should not back down from the battle in the upper chamber.

“I expect my Senate colleagues to do everything they can to defund this law, just like the House is going to do,” Boehner said.

Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, a tea party favorite who has spearheaded the defunding strategy, said he was prepared to do just that.

“I will do everything necessary and anything possible to defund Obamacare,” Cruz said.

But other Republicans suggested the approach was destined to fail. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., offered some straight talk Thursday, telling CNN that Republicans simply don’t have the votes to dismantle or defund the health care law.

“I can tell you, in the United States Senate, we will not repeal or defund Obamacare. We will not. And to think we can is not rational,” McCain said.

The Arizona Republican also warned that Republicans could be on the hook politically if the fight results in a government shutdown. “No one fought harder against it than I did, but to somehow think we are going to defund it is simply not going to happen at this time. And it will, in my opinion, as it did before, harm the American people’s view of the Republican Party.”

And Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker blasted Cruz via Twitter, calling the defunding strategy a “tactic that will fail and weaken our position.”

Amid all this fiscal wrangling, the House also passed on a 217 to 210 vote a $40 billion cut to the nation’s food stamp program, setting up — you guessed it — another showdown with the Senate.

The NewsHour reported on the developments Thursday.

Watch the segment here or below:


We’ll be tracking Friday’s vote on the Rundown blog and will analyze the week in politics with David Brooks and E.J. Dionne on the show Friday night. Tune in.

LINE ITEMS

  • The Obama administration plans to unveil limits on greenhouse gas emissions for new power plants on Friday.

  • Mr. Obama on Friday will visit a Ford plant in Missouri, where he is expected to highlight the success of the auto industry as part of his continued focus on the country’s economic progress since the start of the financial collapse five years ago.

  • Politico’s Jennifer Haberkorn reports that the Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether it can require employers to provide access to contraception.

  • A Texas court overturned the 2010 convinction for the above-mentioned former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The Texas Republican had been sentenced to three years in prison, but a three-judge panel voted 2-1 to overturn the conviction, calling the evidence “legally insufficient.” The Post reports that the decision “formally acquits DeLay of all charges, but could still be appealed by the government.”

  • DeLay was actually at the Capitol Thursday, and called the panel’s ruling “powerful,” Fox News’ Chad Pergam reported. And Roll Call notes that DeLay told reporters, “We were basically on our knees in prayer when my lawyer called and said, ‘You’re a free man.’”

  • The White House is vetting Janet Yellen on a “fast-track” to chair the Federal Reserve, Senate Banking Committee member Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said Thursday, as the White House told senators to be ready to stand up for her if she should encounter increased resistance of the kind that forced Larry Summers to withdraw before his nomination.

  • Here’s that fiscal rant from Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., that went viral Thursday.

  • Bloomberg’s Todd Shields and Laura Litvan have the skinny on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to Capitol Hill as he spoke about immigration with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and others. Pelosi’s staff put out this picture.

  • House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said this week he would consider a measure that would provide an “earned path to citizenship.” He also pledged action on immigration overhaul legislation even as most of the attention on Capitol Hill is focused on fights over the budget and debt, according to the Associated Press.

  • Attorney General Eric Holder gave more detail Thursday about how the Department of Justice is changing the mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes.

  • The contractor that vetted Edward Snowden also did the background check for Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis.

  • Macon Phillips, who has been running the digital operations show at the White House, will head to the State Department to revamp its efforts.

  • The Senate passed a bill Thursday to allow the government to continue selling its helium reserves in order to avert a massive shortage of the gas that is essential for cooling MRI machines, manufacturing microchips and, of course, filling balloons. And, hot air jokes aside, Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski gets at what the helium measure actually does.

  • Check out the photos in this Chris Moody story about the Obamacare fight on Yahoo News, and see if you agree that “creepy Uncle Sam” is an understatement.

  • Amy Walter details how the gun control fight could play out for the 2014 midterm elections.

  • The Associated Press explains in detail why “the world won’t end if a dysfunctional Washington can’t find a way to pass a funding bill before the new budget year begins on Oct. 1.” Among the things that don’t actually “shut down” are Social Security checks, defense spending and law enforcement personnel.

  • In the current issue of the Atlantic, Washington Post’s Reid Wilson writes about how his experience living abroad in New Zealand changed his relationship with food.

  • Is the press’ obsession with Hillary Clinton’s political ambitions a “neurosis” in the “same category as Anthony Weiner’s social networking”? Not when the “normal life” she says she wants involves such a prominent role in the political conversation, Maggie Haberman and John Harris suggest.

  • Well done, Joey Prusak.

  • It’s true. You just can’t hug every cat.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

TOP TWEETS

Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: