House Republicans could move legislation that would defund Obamacare as a part of a government appropriations bill, GOP members confirmed Friday as they headed out of Washington for a five-week congressional recess.
The majority of House Republicans oppose using a government shutdown as leverage to defund the Affordable Care Act. Republicans unanimously support the defunding or derailment of President Obama's signature health care reforms, but are still in search of a strategy that would garner broad public backing while putting Obama and Senate Democrats on the defensive.
Attaching a defunding provision to some sort of high priority spending bill is one option of many now loosely under consideration. The government would shut down Oct. 1 if lawmakers don't agree on a temporary budget bill, or continuing resolution, that would continue to fund government operations beyond the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.
"We're looking at every option, whether it's in an appropriations bill, whether it's in the CR, whether it's in the debt ceiling discussion that's yet to come," Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., told the Washington Examiner. "We're looking at any opportunity we have to represent the American peoples' concern, and that is that this law is not what they want to be the law of the land."
"There are a number of strategies right now being discussed," said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who authored a letter, signed by more than 70 House Republicans, urging support for a continuing resolution that funds the government but not Obamacare.
However, it is unclear if attaching defunding language to an appropriations bill is a workable strategy, given the difficulty Republican leaders have had in rounding up the 218 GOP votes they need to pass spending legislation. Just this week, a transportation and housing bill was pulled from the House floor because it lacked the Republican votes needed to pass.
Meanwhile, even congressional Republicans in favor of using a government shutdown as a negotiating tactic concede that President Obama and Senate Democrats are unlikely to support legislation that strips funding for the Affordable Care Act, even if a standoff with the GOP caused the federal government to shut down. So Republicans are now trying to determine the best political and legislative strategies to block the implementation of Obamacare.
The law remains unpopular with most voters, according to public opinion polls.
"Obviously, defunding Obamacare, making sure it's not implemented, is being talked about — really in a united way across our conference," Meadows said. "The real struggle becomes is, what's the best approach, what's the most prudent approach."