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Republicans Split on Efforts to Defund Obama Health-Care Law

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas who won his first political race in 2012, said on July 30 that “if we do not stand on principle now, it is likely that we never will repeal Obamacare.” Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas who won his first political race in 2012, said on July 30 that “if we do not stand on principle now, it is likely that we never will repeal Obamacare.” Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Aug. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Shutting down the U.S. government to starve President Barack Obama’s health-care system overhaul is the wrong solution pushed only by a “few extreme people” in Congress, lawmakers from both major parties said.

As Congress prepares to negotiate the federal budget for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, a faction of Republican senators -- led by Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah -- has said it will force a government shutdown if funding continues for the $1.3 trillion Affordable Care Act.

“I appreciate Senator Cruz’s passion, his intent to want to defund Obamacare -- I’d love to do it, too, but shutting down the government and playing into the hands of the president politically is not the right thing to do,” Senator Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican, said today on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program. “Plus, it’s going to do great harm to the American people if we pursued that course.”

About 25 million people who lack health insurance are expected to gain coverage from the Affordable Care Act by 2016, through provisions that include government subsidies and an expansion of state Medicaid programs. The complexity, reach and cost of the bill, which Republicans opposed when it passed Congress in 2010, has spurred efforts to derail or defund the core provisions before they take hold Jan. 1.

Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, said on “Meet the Press” that Cruz’s efforts have held up otherwise bipartisan appropriations bills.

“Senator Cruz is part of the few extreme people in the Senate when it comes to this subject, calling for shutting down the government of the United States, even shutting down the American economy to make his political point,” Durbin said on the program.

Cruz, who won his first political race in 2012, said on July 30 that “if we do not stand on principle now, it is likely that we never will repeal Obamacare.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Jamrisko in Washington at mjamrisko@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Romaine Bostick in Washington at rbostick@bloomberg.net

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