The Times West Virginian

Headline News

September 21, 2013

GOP House charting collision with Obama

WASHINGTON — Charting a collision course with the White House, the Republican-controlled House approved legislation Friday to wipe out the 3-year-old health care law that President Barack Obama has vowed to preserve — and simultaneously prevent a partial government shutdown that neither party claims to want.

“The American people don’t want the government shut down, and they don’t want “Obamacare,” Speaker John Boehner said as members of his rank and file cheered at a celebratory rally in the Capitol moments after the 230-189 vote. He stood at a lectern bearing a slogan that read, “(hash)Senate must act.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it will — but not the way Boehner and his tea party-heavy Republican contingent want. Assured of enough Senate votes to keep the government open and the health care law in existence, the Nevada Democrat accused Republicans of attempting “to take an entire law hostage simply to appease the tea party anarchists.”

Behind the rhetoric lay the likelihood of another in a series of complex, inside-the-Beltway brinkmanship episodes as conservative House Republicans and Obama struggle to imprint widely differing views on the U.S. government.

In addition to the threat of a partial shutdown a week from Monday, administration officials say that without passage of legislation to allow more federal borrowing, the nation faces the risk of a first-ever default sometime in the second half of next month.

House Republicans intend to vote to raise the nation’s debt limit next week to prevent that from happening. But they have said they will include a one-year delay in Obamacare in the measure to reinforce their determination to eradicate the program.

The same bill will include provisions to reduce deficits and stay the administration’s environmental agenda as the GOP seeks gains for its own priorities. Raising the cost of Medicare for financially better-off beneficiaries is one likely provision to be added, according to numerous officials. So, too, is a ban on federal regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama, who has said repeatedly he will not negotiate over debt limit legislation, called Boehner late in the day to tell him that directly.

The speaker expressed disappointment, his office said, and responded that Congress “will chart the path ahead.” The White House said Obama also called House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

Obama responded in remarks before an audience at a Ford assembly plant near Kansas City, Mo.

He blamed a “faction on the far right of the Republican Party” for threatening to shut down government operations or default on government debts. “They’re focused on trying to mess with me,” he told plant workers. “They’re not focused on you.”

Unlike other budget showdowns of the recent past, this one pits younger Republicans in the House against GOP veterans in the Senate, although not to the extent it does one party against the other.

Republicans are united in their opposition to the health care law, which they say will force the price of coverage higher and prompt employers to reduce work hours for workers.  But they disagree on how to attack it.

The bill that won passage on Friday was all but forced on Boehner and fellow House GOP leaders, who fear a repeat of the twin government shutdowns nearly two decades ago that inflicted serious political damage on Republicans.

Caution on the part of GOP elders was overwhelmed by tea party-aligned lawmakers, who were in turn responding to the urgings of outside groups and their allies in the Senate, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah among them.

The vote in the House was almost completely along party lines, and the administration threatened in advance to veto the bill if it should pass the Senate as well. Among Democrats, only Reps. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Jim Matheson of Utah supported the measure. Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell was the only Republican voting against it.

The Republican rally in the Capitol afterward was unusual for its overtly political tone.

“You know, many Senate Republicans have promised to leave no stone unturned fighting for this bill, and all of us here support that effort. We’re calling on Senate Democrats to do the same thing,” said Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, who then asked how four Democrats who face re-election in swing states next year will be voting. Among the four, Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana all voted for the law when it passed Congress, and none has indicated a vote for nullification.

Instead, the likelihood is that the Senate will strip off the provision to defund the health care law, as well a different section that prioritizes debt payments in the event the Treasury lacks the funds to meet all its obligations. Reid and other Democrats then plan to send back to the House a bill whose sole purpose would be to prevent any interruption in government services on Oct. 1.

The next move would be up to Boehner and his famously fractious rank and file. Unless they decide to surrender quickly, they could respond with yet another attack on the health care law, perhaps a one-year delay in the requirement for individuals to purchase insurance. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky backs legislation to that effect, and Obama has already announced a one-year postponement in a requirement for businesses to provide coverage to their employees.

In recent years, the threat of massive interruptions in government services has waned as agencies refine their plans for possible shutdowns, but lawmakers cautioned the effects could be harmful.

“Our brave men and women of our military don’t get paid; our recovering economy will take a huge hit, and our most vulnerable citizens — including the elderly and veterans who rely on critical government programs and services — could be left high and dry,” said Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky.

———

Associated Press writers Alan Fram and, Andrew Taylor in Washington and Josh Lederman in Missouri contributed.

 

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • U.N. school in Gaza in cross-fire; 15 killed

    A U.N. school in Gaza crowded with hundreds of Palestinians seeking refuge from fierce fighting came under fire Thursday, killing at least 15 civilians and leaving a sad tableau of blood-spattered pillows, blankets and children’s clothing scattered in the courtyard.

    July 25, 2014

  • Jet with 116 on board crashes in Mali

    An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation disaster in a week.

    July 25, 2014

  • Two more planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in Netherlands

    Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the crash site which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

    July 25, 2014

  • Obama demands ‘economic patriotism’

    Staking out a populist stand ahead of the midterm elections, President Barack Obama on Thursday demanded “economic patriotism” from U.S. corporations that use legal means to avoid U.S. taxes through overseas mergers.
    “I don’t care if it’s legal,” Obama declared. “It’s wrong.”

    July 24, 2014

  • Airline disasters come in a cluster

    Nearly 300 passengers perish when their plane is shot out of the sky. Airlines suspend flights to Israel’s largest airport after rocket attacks. Two airliners crash during storms. Aviation has suffered one of its worst weeks in memory, a cluster of disasters spanning three continents.

    July 24, 2014

  • Opponents: Evidence against lethal injection

    The nation’s third botched execution in six months offers more evidence for the courts that lethal injection carries too many risks and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, death-row lawyers and other opponents said Thursday.

    July 24, 2014

  • Ancient Animal Dig.jpg Wyoming cave with fossil secrets to be excavated

    For the first time in three decades, scientists are about to revisit one of North America’s most remarkable troves of ancient fossils: the bones of tens of thousands of animals piled at least 30 feet deep at the bottom of a sinkhole-type cave.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bodies of Malaysian jet victims solemnly returned to Dutch soil

    Victims of the Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine returned at last Wednesday to Dutch soil in 40 wooden coffins, solemnly and gently carried to 40 identical hearses, flags at half-staff flapping in the wind.

    July 24, 2014

  • 48 dead in Taiwan plane crash

    Family members of victims of a plane crash were flying to the small Taiwanese island on Thursday where the plane had unsuccessfully attempted to land in stormy weather, killing 48. There were 10 survivors, and authorities were searching for one person who might have been in a wrecked house on the ground.

    July 24, 2014

  • Agents get subsidized ‘Obamacare’ using fake IDs

    Undercover investigators using fake identities were able to secure taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law, congressional investigators said Wednesday.
    The weak link seemed to be call centers that handled applications for frazzled consumers unable to get through online.

    July 24, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads