House Passes Continuing Resolution That Defunds Obamacare

To the surprise of nobody, the House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution that defunds the Affordable Care Act and sent it one to the Senate, where it will most assuredly die next week:

The House passed a short-term spending plan Friday morning that would continue funding government operations through mid-December but withhold funding for President Obama’s signature health-care law, firing the opening salvo in what promises to be a contentious 10 days of debate on Capitol Hill over extending government operations by only three months.

The legislation would fund federal agencies at an annualized rate of more than $986 billion but would also leave in place automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, set to take effect in January. It would include language to prohibit any funding going to implementing the health-care law and, additionally, authorize the Treasury to pay some bills and not others in the event that no deal is reached in October on increasing the country’s debt limit.

The strategy of passing a stopgap budgetwith language defunding Obamacare, was adopted in recent days by Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and ensured the support of a large number of conservatives who have repeatedly criticized his leadership and voted against previous bills he has advanced.

Acknowledging that the proposal to end the health-care law is at the centerpiece of the budget plan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the law must be ended because it “is turning our full-time economy into a part-time economy.”

But the Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to move quickly next week to strip the health-care provisions from the bill. Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday that any bill that defunds Obamacare “is dead” and “a waste of time” in the Senate.

Lawmakers voted 230 to 189 to approve the funding measure. Two Democrats, Reps. Jim Matheson (Utah) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.), joined with 228 Republicans to approve the plan; one Republican, Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.), joined with Democrats.

Rigell’s opposition was explained yesterday in a press release:

Stressing the damage that governing under Continuing Resolutions (CRs) has had on our economy and military, Congressman Scott Rigell (VA-2) today urged House leadership to use the upcoming CR as an opportunity to return the House to regular order. In a letter to House Republican leadership, Rigell asked that language adapted from H. Con. Res. 9, the ‘Govern Before Going Home’ resolution, be added to the CR. This amendment to House Rules would prevent prolonged recesses unless all twelve appropriations bills are passed, eliminating the need for CRs.

“There is universal agreement that funding the federal government with Continuing Resolutions damages the economy and our nation’s military, yet they are now seen as acceptable if not inevitable,” Rigell wrote. ” … The CR is a perfect legislative vehicle to advance our shared goal of returning to regular order.”

“Linking the House calendar to passage of all twelve appropriations bills resonates deeply with our Conference and the American people,” added Rigell.

The legislative language, shown below, stipulates that the House of Representatives is prohibited from adjourning or entering “pro forma” session for more than five days (with exceptions made for national holidays and weekends) unless and until it has passed a budget and all twelve appropriations bills.

The bills fate in the Senate should be decided by the middle of next week. At that point, one wonders what the Republican “Plan B” is.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Healthcare Policy, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. al-Ameda says:

    This entirely predictable and completely despicable kabuki is for the benefit of the Republican base, and is intended to ramp up support for the 2014 mid-term elections.

  2. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    So now it’s in the Democrats’ hands. Will they shut down the government just so they can keep ObamaCare going?

  3. anjin-san says:

    So now it’s in the Democrats’ hands. Will they shut down the government just so they can keep ObamaCare going?

    As the saying goes, you can fool some of the people…

  4. john personna says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    If only people were that dumb?

    (Of course, it might be the dumb/crazy people that expect people to be that dumb.)

  5. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    No, they’ll pass a clean bill in the Senate. Will Republicans in the House shut down the government as a result?

  6. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Y’know, Jenos, you might want to study a bit of law–when someone holds someone hostage and threatens to kill them unless the authorities hand over $5 million dollars, we don’t hold the authorities responsible for any deaths. We hold the kidnapper responsible. Funny thing, but that’s how laws dealing with murder roll.

    Your argument sounds like that stated by a three-year old brat whining about his brother: “Mommy! He made me hit him!”

    Or are you saying that the actions of the Republican Party should be judged by the interactions between three-year olds?

    Well, if you want to go down that road…..

  7. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @grumpy realist: I was unaware that ObamaCare is a living person.

    Considering how many pages the bill ran (almost 3,000), you’d have a better argument that it is a tree, and the Republicans were threatening it with a chainsaw…

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Hahaha! That’s funny because the bill has a lot of words and stuff! A bill regulating a large complex system in a large complex country is also large and complicated! Hilarious! That joke just never gets old!

    Similarly, a few months ago some colleagues and I did a large syndicated lending and restructuring transaction, and the combined agreements and related documents came in to over 2,000 pages. We couldn’t believe it! Boy, how we laughed at the fact that we had to document and account for every legal and economic possibility in a multi-billion dollar transaction among multiple sophisticated financial institutions! We should have just done it all on a cocktail napkin!

  9. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: (Applause) Well played, sir!

  10. David M says:

    It’s pretty obvious the party demanding the large change is the one pushing the shutdown. Trying to claim otherwise is fairly ridiculous.

  11. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    So now it’s in the Democrats’ hands. Will they shut down the government just so they can keep ObamaCare going?

    The answer is yes, Mr. Torrance. It’s always been yes.

  12. Todd says:

    Right now all the focus is on the Republicans. To me, as it seems more and more inevitable that we may have some sort of a shutdown, the real question is (especially if the Republicans are obviously blamed by a significant portion of the electorate) how bold will the Democrats be with their own “wants” in exchange for the votes that will be needed to pass something out of the House?

    Do they pass something in the Senate which ends the sequester, and raises the debt ceiling? … or will they simply be satisfied with yet another short-term CR that continues spending (to include Obamacare) at current sequestration levels?

    Sadly I suspect it will be the later.

    … which will set us up for another round of hostage taking in just a few more weeks. 🙁

    p.s. I’m fully aware that to get such a bill as described above through the House (with mostly Democratic votes) and past a Senate filibuster would require John Boehner to fall on his sword, and several Republican Senators to risk primary challenges for the good of the country. Which means that the shutdown would probably have to be a pretty long and damaging one. So basically, we’re probably screwed no matter what … and I’m usually a very optimistic person.

  13. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    So now it’s in the Democrats’ hands. Will they shut down the government just so they can keep ObamaCare going?

    I’ll take “Brain Dead Republicans” for $1,000, Alex.

    What is, “Who are the morons who have just demonstrated that they could care less about governing responsibly, and whose next strategy will be to leverage the Debt Limit Ceiling into another intentional downgrade in the bond rating for American securities?”

  14. grumpy realist says:

    Oh, and in regards to “simple, sweet, and short” legislation, the problem is that it never is such. If you don’t think enough and put in sufficient definitions and clauses, then you have to fix all the problems later very tediously through more legislation or case law (or regulations, if there’s an administrative authority.)

    What Obamacare is trying to do is combine the legislation together with the regulations in order to jump over all the tedious legal snafus and mess which would result in the multi-volume binders of regulations anyway. They’ll probably have succeeded about as well as usually occurs with these sorts of things–i.e., not very. But I see where they’re coming from. It really is more cost-effective to do it this way, rather than having to have a litigation catfight over every ambiguous situation.

  15. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. plus, litigation may or may not produce the clarity you want. You can’t believe the number of cases we have in patent law where we’ve been trying to get clarity from the courts on interpretation and the bloody legal question never gets addressed because the court makes its decision along a completely different line of reasoning. Very annoying. If we’re lucky, we’ll get something in a footnote, but that’s not binding authority.

  16. Neil Hudelson says:

    Jenos, here is how it will go:

    House Republicans: “Haha, Senate Democrats! We’ve thrown the ball into your court, and it’s booby trapped!”

    Senate Democrats: *Examines ball* *Removes trap* “Here you go…”

    House Republicans: “Sh*t…”

  17. john personna says:

    My mother tells me that she is hearing death panel stuff again, from the little old ladies she hangs with. Sad.

    (Not all of them know my mother is a firm Maddow fan.)