In a pivotal closed-door meeting just now, House Republicans enthusiastically embraced a plan from Speaker John Boehner to attach a one-year delay of Obamacare to the government-funding bill, an act that dramatically raises the odds that the current funding law will expire on Tuesday without a replacement.
Boehner, who had weighed less antagonistic options such as attaching the delay or repeal of only some unpopular provisions in the health-care law, began the meeting by presenting the proposal in a confident but matter-of-fact tone, lawmakers said.
The reaction was “overwhelmingly positive,” in the words of one person in the room. “Beautiful” is how Representative Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia put it.
At one point, Representative John Culberson of Texas, whose aide had only last week confronted a top aide to Senator Ted Cruz over strategy, yelled “Let’s roll!,” an allusion to a rallying cry used by Todd Bremer on a hijacked plane in the September 11 attacks.
“We’re totally unified. 100 percent,” Culberson told reporters afterwards. “We’re doing the right thing for the right reasons.”
Representative Joe Barton of Texas, who had led the GOP dissent regarding a debt-ceiling bill unveiled by House leaders on Thursday, offered effusive praise. Barton actually apologized for causing trouble at earlier meetings and said “what the leadership said today is the best I’ve heard in 16 Congresses,” one Republican said. The Texas Republican then offered to help whip votes if needed.
Even some moderates came out of the meeting with effusive praise for the strategy, which Senate majority leader Harry Reid had preemptively rejected at a press conference yesterday.
“The American public’s with us on it, and I think there will be Democrats on the other side of the aisle” who will embrace it as well, Arkansas representative Steve Womack said.
The bill will delay all of Obamacare for one year and repeal its tax on medical-device manufacturers. Republicans are also passing a separate bill to provide funds for soldiers to receive paychecks.
Though lawmakers appeared to come out united, there were some signs of disatisfaction on the right that the plan would only delay, not defund, the health-care law. “There’s a whole movement of millions of Americans who for months have called for a full defunding of Obamacare. The reports indicate that this CR, even if amended on the floor, will fund Obamacare. I can’t imagine those millions of Americans will be too happy,” a senior aide to a conservative lawmaker said.