WASHINGTON (AFP) – The House of Representatives doubled down Wednesday on a gamble to strip funding for “Obamacare” as part of a stop-gap budget, inching the U.S. government closer to a shutdown.
Congress has until September 30, the end of the fiscal year, to pass a temporary budget measure or see closures of all federal agencies and programs just as the administration seeks to extend the government’s legal borrowing limit and secure Syria’s chemical weapons.
House Speaker John Boehner appeared to cave in to the conservative wing of his Republican Party, which has threatened to vote against any deal on a temporary budget — known as a continuing resolution, or CR — unless it defunds President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law and keeps this year’s automatic spending cuts in place.
“This week the House will pass a CR that locks the sequester savings in and defunds Obamacare,” Boehner told reporters after meeting for an hour with his caucus.
Boehner dismissed accusations he has lost control of his caucus, many of which revolted last week against a Boehner bill that would have allowed the Senate to easily strip out language to defund Obamacare as part of the CR.
“We have a plan that they’re happy with, we’re going forward,” Boehner said. “The fight over here has been won.”
Congress has just 12 days to negotiate a temporary budget before the next looming fiscal battle: raising the country’s debt ceiling.
House Republican number two Eric Cantor warned that the fight to defund Obamacare “will continue as we negotiate the debt limit with the president and the Senate.”