Majority Leader Eric Cantor is trying to thread the needle with a proposal for the continuing-resolution bill that would force the House and the Senate to vote on defunding Obamacare but not make that a requirement for funding the government going forward.
But the plan is already coming under fire by House conservatives who object that it will not use the threat of a government shutdown as leverage to force Democrats to buckle and stop funding the health-care law.
Under the Cantor plan, the House would vote on two measures, the CR and a resolution that amends the CR to defund Obamacare. Both measures would be brought under a rule that allows the Senate to send just the clean CR to the president, but only after they first vote on whether to defund Obamacare. If the Senate voted against defunding Obamacare, they could then pass the clean CR.
While this would force a politically difficult vote for Democratic senators, it isn’t the do-or-die fight that many on the right envisioned.
Behind the scenes, some House conservatives are fighting for a more traditional approach of demanding that the final version of the legislation include defunding Obamacare. Opponents of Cantor’s plan have labeled it the “hocus pocus plan for defunding Obamacare: now you see it, now you don’t,” according to one aide.
The plan has not yet been announced to the full GOP conference and there is still furious lobbying going on behind the scenes. Representatives Tom Graves of Georgia and Jim Jordan of Ohio are leading the push against the Cantor plan.
A GOP leadership aide says the odd structure is necessary to prevent Senate Democrats from abandoning the spending cuts in the sequester. “Consistent with the Meadows letter, House Republicans will force Senate Democrats to consider defunding Obamacare as part of the CR debate, while minimizing the risk that we lose sequester-level funding. It’ll now be up to Harry Reid to once again be responsible for raising premiums and hurting job growth by funding Obamacare,” the source says.