(CNSNews.com) – Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced an amendment on Wednesday that would cut off all funds for Obamacare, a step he said Republicans should support and, if it were to pass in the House as well, could be sent to President Barack Obama to see if he’s “willing to try to shut the government down” over funding of the Affordable Care Act.
“I think it’s the right position for Republicans to be taking,” Cruz told CNSNews.com. “And I think it would be exactly the right decision to then send it back to Harry Reid and President Obama and ask if Harry Reid and President Obama are willing to try to shut the government down in order to insist that Obamacare be fully funded now, even though it could well push us into a recession.”
“I think that is an important stand for principle that makes a difference in the lives of those who are struggling the most,” said the senator.
On Wednesday, Cruz introduced his de-fund Obamacare amendment to the continuing resolution (CR), which is a massive "must-pass" bill to keep the government funded for the rest of this fiscal year, from late March through the end of September.
Last week, the Republican-controlled House passed a $982-billion CR, but the GOP leadership set the rule and did not allow the must-pass CR to include language prohibiting funding for Obamacare or for de-funding the controversial Obamacare mandate that requires nearly all health plans to offer contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs without co-payments.
Though he said he does not expect his amendment to pass in the Senate, which is majority-Democrat, Cruz said it is “entirely beneficial” to have a conversation about the impact of Obamacare on economic growth.
He also encouraged House Republicans to “stand for principle” and force the president and the Senate to shut down the government over funding the health care law.
During a press conference on Capitol Hill, CNSNews.com asked Cruz why the Republicans in the House did not attempt to defund the law.
“You just said this amendment isn’t likely to pass because the Republicans don’t control the Senate,” CNSNews.com asked. “But the Republicans control the House. And they decided to not try to defund Obamacare in the CR. Why do you think they didn’t put that in and do you think they should have?”
“Well, legislation can be an iterative process,” Cruz said. “And one of the benefits, I believe, of debating and voting on this amendment today is that if Republicans stand together—I hope we will—there is a very good chance the continuing resolution will be amended in the Senate in some way and sent back to the House.”
“So, the House is going to have another shot at this,” he said.
“And I would certainly be very encouraged if the House, when they get the continuing resolution back, made the decision to include precisely this amendment to defund Obamacare,” Cruz continued. “I think it’s the right position for Republicans to be taking.”
“And I think it would be exactly the right decision to then send it back to Harry Reid and President Obama and ask if Harry Reid and President Obama are willing to try to shut the government down in order to insist that Obamacare be fully funded now even though it could well push us into a recession,” he said.
“I think that is an important stand for principle that makes a difference in the lives of those who are struggling the most,” said Cruz.
Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), also at the press conference, said, “I would add, again to reiterate, this was the very first vote they took in the House of Representatives this year, in this Congress. And so it’s important that we make sure that we have a vote here [in the Senate] on that.”
“It’s not always easy for us in the minority to get votes that we think are important,” he said. “But it is easier for the minority in the Senate than it is in the House.”
“This is an opportunity that we have to make sure that this vote happens and it makes sense to have this vote now in connection with the CR,” Lee said.
House Republicans have symbolically voted to repeal Obamacare more than 30 times in legislation that does not need to pass. However, every time they have enacted legislation that must-pass to keep the government funded, they have declined to include language that would repeal all or any part of Obamacare or that would withhold funding for all or any part of Obamacare.
Last week, as CNSNews.com previously reported, when the Republican-controlled House took up the $982-billion continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through September, the legislation did include language prohibiting the administration from buying foreign-made ball bearings but it did not include language limiting the implementation of Obamacare.
The CR, for example, did not include language to prevent the administration from moving forward with a regulation that requires health-care plans to provide cost-free coverage for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs--a regulation that dozens of Christian organizations and businesses have sued the federal government to stop, arguing that it violates their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.
Cruz's amendment to the CR is called the "Restore Growth First" amendment, and it currently has 13 senatorial co-sponsors, all of them Republicans.