Bachmann: Do House Republicans Have the 'Guts to Fight' Obamacare?

Elizabeth Harrington | July 24, 2013 | 4:30pm EDT
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In this March 16, 2013 file photo, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R- Minn., speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

( – Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) said a number of “high-profile” senators are willing to shut down the government over the funding of the president’s health care law, an effort being led by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

Bachmann told that while she was encouraged by a meeting with the Tea Party caucus on Tuesday evening, she fears the GOP leadership in the House does not have the “guts” to block Obamacare from being implemented.

“This is the line in the sand that we have to draw,” Bachmann said following a “Conversations with Conservatives” event on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

“Republicans are the only possible salvation that we have, because Democrats have made their decision. They want socialized medicine. In other words, they want national bankruptcy, because that’s what we’ll get,” Bachmann said.

“And so it’s whether or not the Republicans in the House have the guts to fight, because it’s like [Winston] Churchill famously said – if you don’t fight now, it’s going to be a lot harder to fight later,” Bachmann added.

“And the question is: Are you going to be willing to fight when it’s hard or will you become slaves, because that’s your choice,” she said. “We are going to become economic slaves to this system we’re about to go in.”

Lee and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) are gathering support in both chambers to block funding for the Affordable Care Act in a must-pass bill, most likely the stop-gap spending bill to keep the government funded after Sept. 30, the continuing resolution.

“This is the last stop before Obamacare fully kicks in on Jan. 1 of next year for us to refuse to fund it,” Lee said on Monday.

Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (Texas), Sen. John Thune (S.D.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) support blocking the law’s funding.

At the event on Wednesday, a group of House conservatives said they too are on board with Lee’s plan.

“We did have a meeting last night. A number of senators, including Senator Lee and many others, made it very clear on the Senate Republican side that is the priority that they will be considering during the CR,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) said.

“And we are entirely with [them] on our ability to defund Obamacare through the CR.”

Huelskamp added that he and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) had attempted to vote on defunding the law months ago, but the House leadership “did not want to have that vote.”

“My fear is that if we don’t do something about it by October 1, we might be too late to actually stop it,” Huelskamp said, “which continues to be the Republican priority. It was good to hear the Speaker say that again this week.”

Bachmann told the time to defund the health care law was after the 2010 midterm elections when Republicans picked up more than 60 seats in the House.

When asked how conservative members can get House Speaker John Boehner and the Republican leadership on board, Bachmann said, “It’s very difficult.”

“This is something that I have advocated for in December of 2010,” she said. “The Tea Party had won the election decisively in November of 2010, and the Tea Party had won decisively the election, and it was clearly over Obamacare, and there hadn’t been a penny spent on implementation.

“The right time to have done it was back in December,” Bachmann said. “That was an issue that I had brought up squarely in front of the conference. This is when we needed to do it, and that’s when we should have. That’s when we’ve had our leverage.

“Every month and day we have waited since then has made it more and more difficult,” she said.

Boehner has repeatedly said that Republicans are not going to shut down the government over the health care law or the debt ceiling.

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) said the blame would be placed on the Democrats if the government is forced to close because of an impasse over the law or government spending.

“There is no Republican that wants to shut down the government,” he said. “What we want to do is we want to have responsible government spending. That’s what we were sent here to Washington, D.C., to make sure that we cut spending, that we do things that are necessary to bring fiscal sanity to Washington, D.C.

“If the government is shut down it will be because the other side does not want to cut government spending,” Labrador said. “The other side is unwilling to do the things that are necessary to actually bring our nation back from the brink of fiscal ruin, so I don’t think anybody on this panel wants to shut down the government.

“And when you guys write the story that it’s Republicans who want to shut down the government, I think you’ll give the other side a pass, because they have a gun to our heads, and they say unless you bring government spending higher, raise government spending, we’re going to shut down the government,” he said. “But it’s always, according to your story, it’s the Republicans who are at fault.”

Though 64 House Republicans have signed on to a letter sent by Meadows urging Boehner not to bring any legislation that funds Obamacare to the floor, Bachmann said she is not hopeful the leadership will sign on.

“I don’t have high confidence from the signals that I have seen,” she said. “However, I was very encouraged yesterday at the Tea Party caucus that was held over in the Senate side of the chamber. There were a number of House members and a number of Senate members, and a number of high-profile Senate members who said they would be willing to go forward with a government shut down.

“I think that you have a critical mass in the House and a critical mass in the Senate, and the question is I don’t believe that it has met the threshold yet, of the right numbers, but it’s like a wave,” Bachmann said. “If you have movement in the wave, you might get there.

“I think people are so fed up right now with what they’re seeing in Washington, D.C., fed up with the White House, fed up with Congress, that I think we’ve got to see a bold move,” she added.

“This is it,” Bachmann said. “This is our last big effort, and it’s really less than about five months.

“Can we do it? Yeah, it’s possible, but I think the signals I’m reading out of the Republican leadership to me aren’t encouraging,” she said.

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