WASHINGTON, D.C., September 20, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The House voted 230-189 Friday to defund key portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly known as ObamaCare.
The defunding bill was attached to a stopgap spending bill to keep the federal government running through Dec. 15 while Congress hammers out a new budget.
Since failure to pass the stopgap bill would result in a government shutdown when the current budget expires on Sept. 30, GOP leaders effectively gave House members a choice: Defund ObamaCare, or shut down the government.
“Today, the constitutional conservatives in the House are keeping their word to our constituents and our nation to stand true to our principles, to protect them from the most unpopular law ever passed in the history of the country - ObamaCare- that intrudes on their privacy and our most sacred right as Americans to be left alone,” said Rep. John Culberson, R-TX, on the House floor.
Now, the bill will move on to the Senate, where it is expected to be met with lethal resistance by the Democratic majority.
“Republicans are simply postponing for a few days the inevitable choice they must face: pass a clean bill to fund the government, or force a shutdown,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said after the vote. “I have said it before but it seems to bear repeating: the Senate will not pass any bill that defunds or delays ObamaCare.”
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But GOP senators pledged to put up a fight, with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, promising to do “everything and anything possible to defund ObamaCare,” including a filibuster. But in a joint press release with Sens. Marco Rubio, R-FL, and Mike Lee, R-UT, Cruz admitted Wednesday that ObamaCare’s foes in the Senate were unlikely to prevail.
“Today's announcement that the House will vote to defund ObamaCare is terrific news,” the trio of Senators said Wednesday. “Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution, and right now he likely has the votes to do so. At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people.”
If the move to defund ObamaCare as part of the stopgap funding bill does fail, House GOP leaders have a backup plan. Another showdown over government spending is in the works, as Democrats seek to give the Treasury power to borrow even more money to make payments on the nation’s $17 trillion debt. Without raising the debt limit, the U.S. will risk defaulting on its massive loans for the first time in history. House Speaker Boehner promised Wednesday to make any increase in the debt limit dependent on a one-year moratorium on all aspects of ObamaCare, effectively putting the law on hold while Republicans strategize a way to kill it permanently.
In the meantime, the GOP is offering an alternative to ObamaCare in the form of a replacement bill called “The Republican Study Committee’s American Health Care Reform Act.”
The GOP health care bill would, first and foremost, repeal ObamaCare in its entirety. ObamaCare’s 20,000+ pages of regulations would then be replaced with a 200-page Republican plan, which Rep. Steven Scalise, R-LA, told The Daily Caller “dramatically opens up options for families, and dramatically lowers costs.”
Most significantly, the GOP health care bill explicitly provides for conscience protections and prohibits government funds for being used for elective abortions.
In a summary of the bill published at The Daily Caller, the Republican Study Committee highlighted a provision called “Respecting Human Life.”
According to the bill’s authors, this section of the bill “Provides that nothing in this act requires health plans to provide coverage of abortion services, or permits any government official to require coverage of abortion. Prohibits federal funds authorized or appropriated by this act from covering abortion, except in the case of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is jeopardized. Ensures that no state pro-life or conscience protection laws will be preempted.”
The GOP plan also allows people with pre-existing conditions to change insurance companies at will, without risking rejection, as long as they maintain continuous coverage.
The GOP bill, which Scalise says is “budget-neutral,” offers a $20,000 tax deduction to families and a $7,500 deduction to individuals to be put toward any health plan of their choosing. The bill rewards bargain shoppers, in that any money not spent directly on health care premiums is theirs to keep – a provision the bill’s authors hope will foster competition in the marketplace and lower prices across the board.