Boehner: House Will Fund Obamacare in CR; Won't Risk 'Shutting Down the Government'

Elizabeth Harrington | March 14, 2013 | 3:38pm EDT
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House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). (AP photo)

( – House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he would not include language to defund Obamacare in the continuing resolution bill when it returns to the House, stating, “our goal” is “not to shut down the government.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) offered an amendment to the Senate version of the CR that would have defunded Obamacare. However, the Senate is controlled by Democrats and, on Wednesday, Cruz's amendment failed.

Cruz pointed out, however, that if the Senate CR differs at all from the one passed previously by the House, the House would have another chance to vote on it, and could amend it then to defund Obamacare.

Under the Constitution, the Executive Branch cannot spend any money from the Treasury unless it is appropriated by a law passed by Congress. The government is now spending money under a CR that expires on March 27. For the government to spend money after that date, Congress needs to pass a new CR appropriating the money. If that CR prohibits the administration from spending money to implement Obamacare, President Obama cannot spend money implementing Obamacare.

Were the House to pass a CR prohibiting funding of Obamacare the only way the president or Democrat-controlled Senate could get money to implement Obamacare would be to refuse to pass the CR and thus shut down government funding for everything else until the Republican House relented and agreed to fund Obamacare.

If the House refused to fund Obamacare, it could not be implemented.

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During his weekly press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, asked Boehner if he agreed with Cruz's suggestion that the Republican House should put language in the CR defunding Obamacare when the Senate version of the CR comes back to the House.

“We have voted many times over the last 2 years that we've been in the majority to defund Obamacare, to repeal Obamacare, and we will do so again here in the House in the coming months," Boehner said. "Our goal here is to cut spending.”

“It’s not to shut down the government,” he said.

“I believe that trying to put Obamacare on this vehicle risks shutting down the government,” Boehner said. “That’s not what our goal is. Our goal here is to reduce spending.”

House Republicans have symbolically voted to repeal Obamacare more than 30 times in legislation that did 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.

The initial $982-billion version of the CR to fund the government after March 27, which passed the House last week, included funding to implement Obamacare. The CR is now being deliberated in the Senate, and if it is amended, will return to the House.

On Wednesday, Sen. Cruz introduced an amendment to the CR that would have delayed funding for Obamacare until economic growth returns to historic averages.  The amendment failed in the Senate, 45-52.

Though he did not expect the amendment to pass, Cruz said it was important to stand on “principle,” and urged Republicans in the House to do the same.

“I think it’s the right position for Republicans to be taking,” Cruz told on Wednesday. “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.”

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