WASHINGTON, D.C. – When asked for a comment at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this past week, one congressman said he believes President Obama would be more than willing to allow the government to shut down if needed to save Obamacare.
Representative Huelskamp (R—KS) favors efforts to defund Obamacare by amending the continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government for the next six months, but doesn’t believe his party’s leadership will allow a vote on such proposals. Huelskamp said, “We made our shot in the House and our leadership refused to even allow a vote. They knew it would go on. We had the votes in the House. But the goal is trying to make sure spending doesn’t go up. The Senate had their vote, couldn’t get it done, but at the end of the day, this is the real battle.”
“We let Obamacare become implemented and become part of the American healthcare system,” said Huelskamp. “It’ll be hard to ever unravel that. So any way we can do that, I don’t think that’s going to be able to happen on the CR, but it’s so critical when you’re talking about next year’s budget and talk about the debt ceiling. We’ve got to talk about how Obamacare’s going to destroy not only the budget, but our healthcare system in America.”
There is a growing feeling among conservative members of the Republican Party that President Obama has the will to fight for principle on healthcare, but their own leadership does not. “The President of the United States would be willing to shut the government down to save Obamacare,” said Rep. Huelskamp, “but I don’t think we’re willing to shut the government down to stop its implementation.”
The congressman promised to have more determination than his own leaders. “We’re going to keep pushing on that, but we’re going to have more folks from the House side calling in,” said Huelskamp, “because a lot of my colleagues have not been hearing much from their constituents about Obamacare—other than most people oppose it, but the engagement has really dropped off since the first of the year.”
House Speaker John Boehner has sought to strike a middle of the road approach. He said his goal is not to shut down the government, but to cut spending. “We have voted many times over the last two 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. 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.
Huelskamp and others of like mind aren’t satisfied with Boehner’s leadership on the matter. To them, the president is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his keystone project while their own leaders seem ready to cave at every turn.