CAPITOL HILL —
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has passed a resolution to keep funding the U.S. government, but it also defunds President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. The vote was 230 in favor and 189 against. The bill is unlikely to pass in the Democratically-controlled Senate, setting the stage for another high stakes budget battle just 10 days ahead of a potential government shutdown.
The vote in the House adhered mainly to party lines, with only two Democrats joining with 228 Republicans to vote for it, and only one Republican joining with 188 Democrats to vote against it. The temporary spending bill would continue funding the government through mid-December, but would also withhold funding for the Affordable Care Act, the health care law most Republican lawmakers strongly oppose and refer to as 'Obamacare.'
This was the 42nd time House Republicans have voted to repeal the health care law, which has virtually no chance of passing in the Democratic-led Senate.
House Majority leader Eric Cantor expressed Republican feared that the law would hurt the economy. “Let’s defund this law now, and protect the American people from the economic calamity that we know Obamacare will create,” he said.
A number of Democratic lawmakers expressed dismay that Congress again found itself in a high stakes battle that could lead to a government shutdown. Democratic Representative John Lewis of Georgia said that Republicans needed to give up the ideological fight against the president's health care law.
“Madame Speaker, the voters have spoken. The Supreme Court has ruled. The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. It is constitutional,” he said.
The Senate is expected to move quickly next week to strip the health care defunding provision from the bill, and the White House has made clear that the president would veto it if it ever reached his desk.
Democratic House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi said that House leaders knew their bill was doomed to fail, and that they were playing with fire.
“But what is brought to the floor today, is without a doubt, a measure designed to shut down government. It could have no other intent,” she said.
Budget expert Stan Collender said if there were a partial government shutdown, Republicans would likely pay a price.
"All of the polls that we have seen in recent weeks, show that the Republicans, particularly the House Republicans, but Republicans in general will be blamed if there is a government shutdown," said Collender.
The drama over passing a funding bill is likely to be followed by another battle to the brink over raising the debt ceiling, expected around mid-October.