House Republican Leader: CR Will Permit Funding of Obamacare

By Matt Cover | March 14, 2011 | 6:53pm EDT

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

( - House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said on Monday that the new continuing resolution (CR) the House will consider this week to keep the federal government funded will permit the Obama administration to spend money on the implementation of Obamacare.

Last Thursday, Reps. Steve King (R.-Iowa) and Michele Bachmann (R.-Minn.) sent a letter to Cantor, House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio) and Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers asking them to include language in any future CR that would prohibit the administration from spending any money to implement Obamacare. King and Bachmann vowed not to vote for any CR that permitted funding of Obamacare and called on other House members to take the same pledge.

The language that King and Bachmann are calling for would not only prohibit normal appropriations from funding Obamacare but would also prohibit the administration from carrying out $105.5 billion in spending that, according to the Congressional Research Service, was built into the Obamacare legislation in such a way that it will be automatically spent unless Congress affirmatively prohibits the administration from spending it.

At his Capitol Hill press briefing today, asked Majority Leader Cantor: “Are you or are you not going to use this CR to cut off that $105.5 billion in Obamacare funding? Representatives Steve King and Michele Bachmann have said that they want you to do that, sent a letter saying please use the CR as an opportunity to cut off that funding. Are you going to do that?”

Cantor said: “What we’ve said earlier is that we are operating consistent with House rules, which in this CR means [limiting the bill to] discretionary funding for this year. What I’ve also said here is that we are in another temporary stop-gap mode and the intention is for this year--and going forward to next year--we intend to starve the agencies of the funding to implement the full force and effect of the Obamacare bill.”

When asked earlier by another reporter about the health care spending, Cantor had said, “We are fully committed to making sure that Obamacare is not implemented.”

“There’s a lot of discussion about $105 billion that was put into the Obamacare bill and let’s look at the record here,” he said. “We have passed in the first bill here a repeal of Obamacare.”

“We did it again when it came to H.R. 1 because we put a limiting amendment in there saying no funds will be used to implement Obamacare and our committees are going about marking up the bills which will repeal the mandatory slush funds in that bill,” he said.

“We are also committed to starving the agencies of funding necessary to implement that bill,” said Cantor. “Our intention is to make sure that we starve the agencies of the money that they need to do so.”

The language amended into the initial CR that the House approved last month--but the Senate did not--would not have touched the $105.5 billion in automatic spending built into the Obamacare legislation. $4.95 billion of that $105.5 billion spending is scheduled to take place in this fiscal year.

When asked about opposition to the short-term CR from some conservatives who want to use the bill to defund things such as Obamacare and organizations like Planned Parenthood, Cantor said there were many policy issues he would like to deal with but that Congress needed to work out a spending plan for the remainder of the fiscal year first.

“There are a lot of other issues that our members want to address in the spending prescription for the [current] fiscal year,” he said. “We’re hopeful that we can come to a resolution with some of those whether it has to do with taxpayer-funding of abortion or else-wise we want to get this thing done.”

“We’re saying let’s clean up this [spending] mess now, let’s get it off the table,” he said. “That’s why you’re seeing frustration around this--yet again--another stop-gap measure.”

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), appearing with Cantor at the briefing, said that the Energy and Commerce Committee and other committees would be “going after” the funding for ObamaCare, stating it was a matter of process.

“You have Energy and Commerce last week holding hearings [and] you’re going to be seeing many committees having hearings and going after this money--a lot of it’s the [legislative] process,” he said.

King and Bachmann want the Republican leadership to defund Obamacare in the CR because it is a bill the Senate and President Obama must eventually approve. If the House approves a CR that defunds Obamacare, and the Democratic majority Senate and President Obama oppose that CR, they would need to be willing to shut down the government to prevent it from becoming law.

“While some have argued that our defunding efforts in the CR should be limited only to those annual funds provided by the CR, we disagree,” King and Bachmann wrote in their letter to the Republican leaders. “If we do not stand our ground on the CR, leverage it as the ‘must pass bill’ that it is, and use it to stop the $105.5 billion in automatically appropriated funds, Obamacare will be implemented on our watch. We will also have conceded a significant amount of ground on this issue and will find it difficult, if not impossible, to regain the strategic advantage in future legislative vehicles.”

“We have to write my language into the CR and take a stand,” King told in an interview last week. “Stare the president in the eye and say: Mr. President, we are going to make sure that this government has the resources to function, but we’re also are going to make sure that there are no resources to implement or carry out the provisions of Obamacare, and if you should choose to shutdown the government in order to preserve socialized medicine that has your name on it, that is your choice not ours, but we are not going to allow that unconstitutional bill to be enacted on deceptive funding on our watch.”

The continuing resolution, which likely will be voted on this Wednesday, would fund the government for three weeks starting on March 19, and would cut $6 billion in federal spending.

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