Charting a collision course with the White House, the Republican-controlled House approved legislation Friday to wipe out the 3-year-old health care law that President Barack Obama has vowed to preserve — and simultaneously prevent a partial government shutdown that neither party claims to want.
“The American people don’t want the government shut down, and they don’t want Obamacare,” Speaker John Boehner said as members of his rank and file cheered at a celebratory rally in the Capitol moments after the 230-189 vote. He stood at a lectern bearing a slogan that read “#Senate must act.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it will — but not the way Boehner and his tea-party-heavy Republican contingent want. Assured of enough Senate votes to keep the government open and the health care law in existence, the Nevada Democrat accused Republicans of attempting “to take an entire law hostage simply to appease the tea-party anarchists.”
Behind the rhetoric lay the likelihood of another in a series of complex, inside- the-Beltway brinkmanship episodes as conservative House Republicans and Obama struggle to imprint widely differing views on the U.S. government.
In addition to the threat of a partial shutdown a week from Monday, administration officials say that without passage of legislation to allow more federal borrowing, the nation faces the risk of a first default sometime in the second half of next month.
House Republicans intend to vote to raise the nation’s debt limit next week to prevent that from happening. But they have said they will include a one-year delay in Obamacare in the measure to reinforce their determination to eradicate the program.
The same bill will include provisions to reduce deficits and stay the administration’s environmental agenda as the GOP seeks gains for its own priorities. Raising the cost of Medicare for financially better-off beneficiaries is one likely provision to be added, according to numerous officials. So, too, is a ban on federal regulations on greenhouse-gas emissions.