Republicans have “recently been focusing most of their attention on pressuring Democrats to slash spending, but they haven’t completely taken their eyes off their goal of blocking the health care overhaul law,” Roll Call reports.
The next test for GOP leaders will come in a few weeks, when they must decide how hard to push to defund parts of the law through a long-term continuing resolution, while trying to avoid a government shutdown.
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) “acknowledged in a short interview last week that health care hasn’t been the dominant subject of late, but the Texas Republican said that shouldn’t be interpreted as a lack of commitment.”
“There’s so much going on,” Cornyn said. But he added, “We’re going to look for every bit of leverage, every opportunity we can to stop this,” including defunding.
Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) “said he expects GOP leaders to stand firm on defunding the health care law as the House and Senate negotiate a continuing resolution that would cover the remainder of the fiscal year, even if Democrats vow not to support it and a partial shutdown ensues.”
“I think you’ll see in the permanent CR for the balance of the year that Republican leaders will hold firm on no funding for Obamacare,” the South Carolina Republican said. “We haven’t won the battle obviously, and as long as it’s law, we’re playing on his turf.”
DeMint said a shutdown threat, which he dismissed as a “slowdown,” shouldn’t deter the GOP.
“My opinion is that we should not be so afraid of a government slowdown that we vote for bad policy or too much spending, so that’s a decision everybody’s going to have to make in the next couple of weeks,” he said.
If Obama threatens to veto a bill that defunds his signature health care law, “then he shuts down the government,” Cornyn said. “Do you think the president would really do that? The president would have to be pretty brazen to do that in a fit of pique.”
Meanwhile, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) says he doesn’t think anybody is “talking about a government shutdown over health care.”
Democrats say the effort “is going nowhere.”
“Republicans aren’t talking much about health care because their efforts keep failing, while Democrats have largely remained unified,” one senior Democratic aide said. “First they tried to repeal it, and they faced pushing forward a bill that increases the deficit by a whopping $1 trillion. Then they tried to defund it, and they found out it would kill their own program — Medicare Advantage. They know they can’t try to take away all the new benefits and protections in the law, so they are pretty much stuck.”