Republicans at odds as 'Obamacare' showdown nears

Senator vows to do "everything and anything possible to defund Obamacare."
Associated Press
Sep 20, 2013

Congressional Republicans struggled to tamp down a family feud Thursday as they approached a politically charged showdown with the White House that combines the threat of a government shutdown, a possible first-ever federal default and the GOP's bid to repeal the nation's three-year-old health care law.

One day after conceding that the Democratic-controlled Senate probably would prevail on the last part, Sen. Ted Cruz still vowed to do "everything and anything possible to defund Obamacare." That includes a possible filibuster of legislation to prevent a partial government shutdown, added the Texas Republican.

That was a step further than Sen. Mike Lee of Utah — Cruz's partner in a summertime run of "Defund Obamacare" television commercials — was willing to go. President Barack Obama's health care law "is not worth causing a shutdown over," he said.

The two men spoke at a news conference with several House Republicans where lawmakers stressed they were unified and thanked Speaker John Boehner for agreeing to tie the anti-shutdown and anti-Obamacare provisions into one bill.

That bill is on track for House passage on Friday, with a Senate showdown to follow.

The House intends to move quickly next week with a separate bill to put the health care law on ice, this one a measure that also would allow the Treasury to avoid a default that could destabilize the economy.

Boehner himself sought to redirect the political fire at Obama, accusing him of being ready to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Syria but not engage with Republicans on raising the nation's debt limit, an issue that could lead to national default.

But he also got in a subtle jab at Cruz and Senate conservatives who have been clamoring for weeks for a showdown on the health care law.

"I expect my Senate colleagues to be up for the battle," he said.

The prospect is for a 10-day period of intense uncertainty, with Boehner pledging to avoid a shutdown yet also hoping to come away with a bite out of the health care law, even if less than complete defunding.

Congressional aides pointed out during the day, for example, that if the Senate rewrites the House-passed bill to leave the health care law in place, Boehner and the rest of the House leadership could still seek further changes before passing it a second time.

For their part, the White House and majority Democrats in the Senate will be trying to protect the health care law that stands as Obama's signature domestic accomplishment — without complicating the re-election chances of senators on the 2014 ballot in swing states.

The White House intruded briefly on the Republican feud, pledging that Obama would veto any legislation that blocks the health care law from taking full effect. The defunding drive "advances a narrow ideological agenda that threatens our economy and the interests of the middle class" and would deny "millions of hard-working, middle-class families the security of affordable health coverage," it said.

The effort seeking virtual repeal of the law as part of a government funding bill gained powerful momentum over the summer when the Senate Conservatives Fund, Heritage Action and other groups with tea party ties launched a nationwide campaign.

Cruz and Lee played prominent roles, each appearing in television ads aimed at pressuring Republican lawmakers not to yield. "Republicans in Congress can stop Obamacare if they simply refuse to fund it," Lee says in one SCF-funded commercial.

On the other hand, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has urged Republicans to fund the government and prevent a default, then double back and try and work out changes to the health care law later.

In a tea party age, it is unclear how much political clout establishment groups carry with individual GOP lawmakers.

At the same time, many Republicans fear a replay of twin government shutdowns nearly two decades ago that inflicted significant damage on their party and helped resurrect then-President Bill Clinton's political fortunes.

"When it comes to shutting the government down, that is not going to succeed because people don't want a government shutdown. And they'll blame Congress. They did before," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Another Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, agreed. "I'm one who doesn't believe that a shutdown does anything except divert attention from a president and his policies, which are rightfully unpopular, to congressional incompetence," he said.

Cruz saw it differently hours earlier.

He told the National Automobile Dealers Association that the 1995-96 episode was just a "partial, temporary government shutdown" that didn't hurt Republicans politically as much as most people think and that it helped bring welfare reform in 1996 and a budget deal in 1997.

"Nobody likes that outcome. But it also wasn't the end of the world," he said of a possible shutdown.

Ironically, it was a Cruz comment that ignited anger among House conservatives on Wednesday evening.

As word spread that the House would pass legislation to fund the government and cut off money for the health care law, he issued a statement that said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "likely has the votes" to delete the health care provision. "At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people," he said.

House Republican aides said rank-and-file lawmakers on the House floor at the time vented their anger at what appeared to be a pre-emptive surrender.

Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., tweeted that Lee and Cruz "refuse to fight. Wave white flag and surrender."

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., tweeted, "Senate R's already declare defeat... before the battle even begins. So much for standing up for the American people."




Re: "THEIR president who brought the recession and resultant job losses upon us?"

Still in the time warp Comrade???

No market ever goes up in a straight line. If you had some business and financial sense you would know that.

Agree. The Repubs shouldn't cut from SNAP.

The govt. should continue to tax, borrow, print and spend until fiscal, monetary and financial collapse.

Tres'y Sec. Jack Lew, Sept. 18:

“[W]e are relying on investors from all over the world to continue to hold U.S. bonds. Every Thursday, we roll-over approximately $100 billion in U.S. bills. If U.S. bond holders decided that they wanted to be repaid rather than continuing to roll-over their investments, we could unexpectedly dissipate our entire cash balance.”

Peninsula Pundit

They expect to win by relying on their voters who vote with a jerk of the knee instead of the intelligence of reason.


True coasterfan ,

The only way that the GOP will win another presidential election is by voter suppression which they are and have been working on.

Yes , it still is Bush's fault.


Defund this mess. It's all bad and even the knowledgable left know this. Heck even the big unions are against it. But of course your typical libs on here would love a turd as long as endorsed by Obama.

Obamacare is racist anyhow.

Darwin's choice

Just for fun, Coasterfan, look at ANY of the businesses that Obama has "visited" or "endorsed", all have collapsed! It's the kiss of death!


Re: "It's the kiss of death!"

Good point. Worse than being on the cover of SI. :)

looking around

I know of several company's here in Ohio that were visited by Obama on the campaign trail, all seem to be still up and running? Perhaps you may enlighten us by naming these company's you speak of.


Re: "several company's here in Ohio that were visited by Obama,"

Has he been back to OH since 2012?

He got the useful idiots to vote him in again - he's done coming here.

Darwin's choice

Ok..this was just this week...

How much bandwidth do you want me to use up??



I speak for the 90% of Americans who aren't extreme rightwing nuts. When I hear silly comments like "Obamacare is racist", I just shake my head.

The reality is that Obamacare isn't anywhere close to being fully implemented yet, so to say it's a failure is just silly. The Right said the exact same things about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the GI Bill - and they fought the enactment of all four issues vehemently.

We on the Left know 2 things: universal health care is the right thing to do, assuming we care about all Americans, and that it will work, given time and proper funding.

Darwin's choice

Hahahahahahahahaha!!! You are backing the wrong horse Coasterfan.....


The horse's azz speaks.

Darwin's choice

Finally get out from under Big Dogs tail?


Never was there , Dawrin's bidet.

Darwin's choice

..When you've got nothing, defer, deflect, deny, lie, or call names..


You are the poster boy for that , boy.


Re: "I speak for the 90% of Americans who aren't extreme rightwing nuts."

Don't the Progressive "nuts" continually remind everyone that we are supposed to be a nation of diversity?

If you want socio-politico-economic lockstep thinking, you were born in the wrong country Comrade.


Re: "universal health care is the right thing to do,"

The first country in history to guarantee health care was the USSR.

It was fraught with waste, fraud, abuse and corruption.

NEVER say: It can't happen here.

H*ll, Medicare ALONE loses approx. $60B annually in waste, fraud and abuse.

Your answer: Hire more highly compensated bureaucrats to oversee the transfer of payments and entitlement programs.

The Progressives stupidly assume that they can construct a kinder-gentler form of authoritarian-totalitarianism.

History says YOU can't.


Who perpetrates the waste, fraud, and abuse? Doctors? Hospitals? Surely not the family getting food stamps!

Darwin's choice

Here's more of your beloved "democrat's" Coasterfan. They're disgusting!!

"During the second portion of a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing about Benghazi Thursday on Capitol Hill, the majority of Democrats on the Committee left the room and refused to listen to the testimony of Patricia Smith and Charles Woods. Ms. Smith is the mother of Sean Smith, an information management officer killed in the 9/11 Benghazi attack. Charles Woods is the father of Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, who was also killed."...


They are disgusting. They'd rather run and hide.


My health insurance plan at MY request has a $10,000 deductible. I have been informed by my carrier that at my renewal in February 2014 this will change. Apparently President Obama feels compelled to change MY deductible. My carrier has indicated that this deductible is above the limits that will be allowed by law. So, my deductible will be lowered and wella my premiums go up!! Like Pelosi said, just vote yes for this now and we will figure it out later. Only a democrap has that mentality.





He has little "skin in the game."

He "claims" he is a retired teacher with a spouse who's currently employed as a teacher.

If true, his spouse's and his health care (and retirement) benefits are constitutionally GUARANTEED by OH taxpayers.

Plus, they get Cost of Living Allowances (COLA) in BOTH their health care and retirement benefits.

He complains about corporate greed, yet his pension plan (STRS) invests with hedge funds, private equity, Fortune 500 and foreign companies in order to help provide him his monthly retirement check.

In his mind: Do as I say, not as I do, i.e. an elitist hypocrite.


Coasterfan accuses conservatives of having no compassion. In reality, HE'S the one with none! How else can he explain promoting a program that will cause more job loss, higher prices, and pull more people DOWN from the middle class rather than anybody up from a lower income level?

These predictions aren't mine (though I agree with them). They're coming from experts, INCLUDING Coasterfan's liberal Democrat "buddies." Unfortunately, Obama tends not to be inclined to listen to experts on ANYthing. The smartest man in the world — who's managed to completely mess up foreign policy and alienate our allies, who's managed to block real job makers and energy independence (Keystone Pipeline, anyone?), who's all but economically illiterate and who has ZERO experience in running any kind of a business, and who claims to have been a Consitutional law professor yet routinely ignores and disobeys the Constitution — already knows it all and it's the entire country that will end up paying (and paying BIG) for his many mistakes. That does, by the way, include YOU, Coasterfan.

I'd take some comfort in that if it weren't for the fact that we're ALL going to suffer, even those of us who have long known that the smartest man in the world usually isn't even the smartest man in the room!


You are wasting your time coaster. The usual suspects don't want people to have health insurance because they won't have as much to rant about people going to the ER. Pooh's answer is HSA and high deductible insurance. If you can afford to set the money aside....that can never be used for anything but healthcare expenses... why not just buy health insurance? The problem with HSAs is that if you happen to need that money...your money... you can't use it for anything but healthcare when you may need it for other emergencies. Give the law a chance. Stop believing these rightwing websites that can print anything. Funny how they hate unions but use them in their argument. These companies blaming Obamacare are just using it as a reason to keep their profits up. You are right about the yacht thing too. Funny how the people in support of these antics don't own a yacht at all!


Re: "you can't use it for anything but healthcare when you may need it for other emergencies."

Wrong brain stem.

Prior to age 65, the amount withdrawn for non-medical expenses could potentially be subject to taxes and penalties.

Afterwards, if desired the HSA can be rolled over into a IRA when one becomes eligible for Medicare.

The ONLY lonely thought in Bambie's vacuous mind: Just believe in Obama.


Maybe yours works that way but not the ones I have been offered. What is the tax and penalty for using your own money? So you can put "your" money in an IRA but can't touch it until you are how old? You really don't need it if you qualify for Medicare now do you? I choose to believe in Obama instead of you. Nothing personal just the way it is! Those high deductible policies are worthless. I've had two different HSAs and the money could only be used for healthcare expenses.


deerpooh..after Jan 1, 2014 Pres. Obama's "fantastic" healthcare plan will be capping those policies with a $5,000 ded, I believe. So, the day of a person electing to have a high deductible is over. What then happens is that you get a lower deductible but a higher premium. Thanks Pres. Obama for making that decision for me!


Makes sense to me. If the first 5k is on you anyway why buy a policy with a higher deductible? Do you think the average person spends 5k per year on healthcare. Also under Obama's "fantastic" healthcare law if the insurance company does not use a certain percentage of your premiums for your healthcare they have to refund you.