Asked About Defunding Obamacare, House Republican Leader Stammers

Susan Jones | July 10, 2013 | 7:26am EDT
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House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) ( Starr)

( - President Obama's decision to delay for one year a key requirement of the Affordable Care Act was "a continuation of what we have begun to call the imperial presidency," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told Sean Hannity Tuesday night.

Cantor criticized President Obama for selectively enforcing the law. He also said the individual mandate should be delayed along with the mandate that applies to employers.

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But when Hannity asked if House Republicans would consider defunding Obamacare -- since efforts to repeal it have not worked -- Cantor's confusing response did not answer the question:

"Right, and we have continued, when we -- to do just that, we've continued to say under the sequester that we're operating on, that the president says, you know, he wants to do something about it, but never has come forward with any kind of other suggested reforms in the entitlement areas. But when they ask for more money for Obamacare's implementation, we said no. We said no, we don't feel that this law is the right direction to go in. Nor do we feel this administration should have the ability to take taxpayer dollars to go and sell and market this bill.

"But I think one of the options going forward, Sean, is to take a look at what this White House has done and say, you know what, if it's fair for big business to be exempted from this mandate, we ought to say the same for individuals. We ought to go ahead and delay the individual mandate, and as you know, that individual mandate is the crux of Obamacare, without the individual mandate, the whole law collapses," Cantor said.

The law would collapse without funding as well. And under the Constitution, the Executive Branch cannot spend any money from the Treasury unless Congress appropriates it, either through budget bills or a continuing resolution.

Boehner and House Republicans are now considering a vote to delay ObamaCare's individual mandate, The Hill reported on Tuesday.

As has reported, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said earlier this year that he would not include language to defund Obamacare in the most recent continuing resolution (the one that passed in March) because -- knowing that the Senate would not go along with defunding -- Boehner didn't want to force a government shutdown.

The House is now working on regular appropriations bills, but it has not yet moved one to fund the Department of Health and Human Services, which is spending billions of dollars to implement Obamacare.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said on Tuesday that Obamacare should be defunded, particularly since the law is being selectively enforced:

"The point is, no Republican in Congress, no member of Congress from either house or political party, has any business voting to fund the operations of government if that funding package includes Obamacare funding. The American people aren't getting Obamacare implementation. They shouldn't be required to pay for it," Lee told Fox News's Greta Van Susteren Tuesday night.

Last week, in the middle of the long holiday weekend, the Treasury Department quietly blogged that companies with 50 or more full-time employees would have an extra year (until 2015) to comply with the requirement that they provide "minimum essential" health insurance coverage to workers or else pay a fine.

While the "employer mandate" was delayed for a year, the individual mandate was not. The individual mandate is the heart of Obamacare, as it requires all Americans to purchase health insurance or else pay a penalty to the IRS.

The Heritage Foundation, in a July 9 fact sheet, urged Congress to defund all Obamacare implementation efforts across the federal government.

"Full defunding of Obamacare would halt the law’s new entitlements before they start—and prevent HHS from raiding other parts of the departmental budget to promote Obamacare," Heritage said. "Defunding Obamacare would also prevent the application of the law’s new regulations and  18 separate tax increases, including the tax for not complying with the individual mandate.

"While Congress cannot unilaterally repeal Obamacare, the Constitution grants Congress the ultimate “power of the purse.” If Congress chooses not to fund Obamacare activities for the upcoming fiscal year, the Obama Administration cannot act to implement the law. Congress can, and Congress should, act to defund all of Obamacare now."

Also see:
Boehner: House Will Fund Obamacare in CR; Won't Risk 'Shutting Down the Government' (14 March 2013)

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