Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Texas Senator Ted Cruz urged the Republican-led House to wage another round in the fight over defunding President Barack Obama’s health-care law as the threat of a government shutdown builds in Congress.
House Speaker John Boehner should begin passing individual bills funding “one department at a time,” starting with the military, if the Democratic-led Senate blocks a stopgap government funding bill that also chokes off funds to the health law, said Cruz.
Cruz is leading the congressional Republican fight to defund the Affordable Care Act, and he said he expects Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, to strip a bill the Republican-led House passed on Sept. 20 of the health-care language.
“I believe we should stand our ground,” said Cruz on the “Fox News Sunday” program. “The House is the only body where Republicans have the majority, so the House has to lead on this,” said Cruz.
Reid has said the House bill is “dead” in the Senate, and he will have the votes to remove the health-care language from the bill before sending it back to the House. No Democrats and only about one-third of the 46 Republicans in the Senate support the House effort.
Even many Republicans are saying that Cruz and his supporters are headed for defeat since Democrats who control the Senate will never vote to end the health law, and even if they did, the president would veto it.
“Tactics and strategies ought to be based on what the real world is, and we do not have the political power to do this,” Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program. In the end, House Republicans will have to surrender, he said.
“The exercise is fine,” he said. “We’re not about to shut the government down,” said Coburn.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the real goal of many Republicans seeking to defund the law is to shut down the federal government.
“The Republicans put legislation on the floor that was intended to shut down government,” said Pelosi, a California Democrat. “They know that it has no prospect of prevailing,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “I call them legislative arsonists,” said Pelosi.
Most federal operations would come to a halt when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30 if the Obama administration and lawmakers can’t agree on a stopgap funding bill.
Once the bill is sent back to the House, Republican leaders could revise it and send it back to the Senate as time runs out, raising the risk of a shutdown.
Another senator pushing the defunding effort, Republican Mike Lee of Utah, said he doesn’t think the fight will lead to a federal shutdown on Oct. 1.
“We all know that the government’s going to be funded,” Lee said today on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program. “The question is whether it will be funded with Obamacare or without.”
Ultimately, the decision will probably fall to Boehner, of Ohio, who will have to choose whether to take Cruz’s advice and continue the defunding fight or allow the Senate-passed bill to advance for a vote on the House floor, where it would probably have enough votes to pass with strong Democratic support.
Pelosi said she doesn’t consider Boehner to be among the “arsonists” seeking to shutter the government.
“I don’t paint them all with the same brush, and I certainly don’t paint the speaker with that brush,” she said.
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