House GOP stands firm on health law
Obama swiftly condemned the effort as attempted political extortion, and the Republican-friendly Chamber of Commerce pointedly called on lawmakers to pass urgent spending and borrowing legislation unencumbered by debate over "Obamacare."
The two-step strategy announced by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R., Ohio) marked a concession to his confrontational rank and file. At the same time, it represented a challenge to conservatives inside the Senate and out who have spent the summer seeking the votes needed to pull the president's cherished health-care law out by its roots. They now will be called on to deliver.
"The fight over here has been won. The House has voted 40 times to defund, change Obamacare, to repeal it. It's time for the Senate to have this fight," Boehner said.
A second measure, to be brought to the floor as early as next week, would allow Treasury to borrow freely for one year.
That same bill is also expected to be loaded with other requirements, including construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to the United States, a project that environmentalists oppose and that the Obama administration has so far refused to approve. Other elements will reflect Republican budget priorities, including as-yet-undisclosed savings from health-care and government-benefit programs and steps to speed work on an overhaul of the tax code.
Prospects for passage of the two bills are high in the House, where Republicans have a majority and leaders pronounced the rank and file united behind the strategy.
But both measures are certain to be viewed as nonstarters by majority Democrats in the Senate.
Some Republicans appeared to concede during the day that the legislation that eventually reaches the White House will leave the health-care law in effect.