Boehner Non-Committal on Defunding Obamacare Mandate Through Must-Pass CR Bill

By Elizabeth Harrington and Curtis Houck | July 25, 2013 | 1:16pm EDT

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). (AP)

( – House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday said Republicans will do “everything we can” so Americans are not put through the “horrific experience” of Obamacare but would not say if that includes blocking its funding in the continuing resolution, the surest way to halt the individual mandate and other aspects of the law slated for implementation in 2014.

"No decision has been made about how we're going to deal with the CR next month, in September,” Boehner said when asked if he agreed with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) that funding for the individual mandate be halted in the continuing resolution, or CR, in the fall.

The CR is a catch-all funding mechanism that has been used frequently over the last few years because Congress has not passed, nor the president signed, a fiscal year budget. The CR, under negotiation now, would appropriate funds to keep the government operating past Sept. 30, the end of fiscal year 2013.

“Obamacare in my view, it’s driving up the cost of health insurance. It’s denying people access to quality care, and it’s killing jobs in America,” Boehner said during a press conference on Capitol Hill. “That’s why we voted some 39, 40 times to defund or repeal Obamacare.”

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Boehner then took credit for forcing President Obama to make changes to the health care law, such as delaying the employer mandate for big corporations -- but not for small businesses and individuals -- until past 2014.

“And I would remind you that the president has signed seven changes to Obamacare into law,” he said. “That would never have happened had it not been for our continued efforts to defund this and repeal it."

“As we get into the fall, we’re going to continue to point out what I think are big flaws in the system,” Boehner said. “How can you provide subsidies through these health exchanges without verifying people’s income? Our job is to protect the American people. It’s to spend their taxpayer money wisely. I think it’s wide open for abuse.

“[This is] just one of a number of issues I expect we’ll continue to work on as we do everything we can to make sure this doesn’t really go into effect,” he said.

But when asked if “everything we can” includes defunding the law — and specifically in the continuing resolution — Boehner was non-committal.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden react to cheers as they arrive in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 23, 2010, for the signing ceremony for the health care bill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“We will continue to do everything we can to defund it, to repeal it and to make sure that the American people aren’t put through this horrific experience,” he said. then asked Boehner about Senator Lee’s plan to block any funding bill that includes spending to implement Obamacare. asked: "Senator Mike Lee wants the upcoming continuing resolution to include language that prohibits funding for the individual mandate in Obamacare because the similar mandate for big corporations for business has already been postponed by the president. Do you agree with him that funding for the individual mandate be halted in the CR?"

Boehner said, "No decision has been made about how we're going to deal with the CR next month, in September." then asked again, "Just on that note also, are you ruling out the CR? Sen. Lee and others in the House are saying it's now or never to block funding for Obamacare, so do you agree with that?"

"We have not made any decisions about how we're going to deal with the CR," Boehner replied.

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

At least 14 Republican senators have already signed on to Sen. Lee's proposal. They include Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), James Risch (Idaho), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Enzi (Wyoming), John Cornyn (Texas), John Thune (S.D.), James Inhofe (Okla.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Rand Paul (Ky.), David Vitter (La.), Rocger Wicker (Miss.) Deb Fischer (Neb.) and Jeff Chisea (N.J.).

Sen. Mike Lee (R.-Utah)

A CBS News poll released this week found that more Americans than ever want Obamacare repealed, and 54 percent disapprove of the health care law.

On Wednesday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) questioned whether Boehner and the GOP leadership have “the guts” to defund Obamacare.

“Republicans are the only possible salvation that we have, because Democrats have made their decision,” 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,” she said.

“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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