News & Politics

Boehner Caves to Tea Partiers as House Pledges to Delay Obamacare

And Cantor says fight will continue with debt limit negotiations.

House Speaker John Boehner this morning:

“Every Member in this room is for defunding Obamacare while letting the rest of the government continue to operate,” Boehner told his conference in remarks this morning. “We’re going to put Obamacare defunding directly into the CR. And then we’re going to send it over to the Senate, so our conservative allies over there can continue the fight.  That’s where the fight is.”

Okay, so House Republicans will embrace Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's Obamacare defunding scheme, but does he really think it has a snowball's chance in hell of working?

The answer to that question is pretty clear: He doesn't. For starters, he explicitly said that what the House is really doing is punting the defund Obamacare scheme back to Senate Republicans. Those aren't the words of someone who thinks Obamacare will be defunded, those are the words of someone who just doesn't want to get blamed by conservatives when Cruz's scheme finally implodes.

Just in case anyone doubts that interpretation, take a look at what House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said about the debt limit moments after Boehner spoke:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., outlined a follow-on plan that would seek to marry a one-year delay in Obamacare to the debt ceiling hike, as well as tax reform and the Keystone pipeline.

“That fight will continue as we negotiate the debt limit,” Cantor said.

Here's the thing: If Boehner and Cantor actually believed that the House vote to defund Obamacare was viable, it wouldn't make any sense for them to say that they are going to also going to try to delay it for a year. The whole idea of defunding Obamacare is to effectively repeal it—if they believe they are on the verge of actually repealing Obamacare, why on Earth would they try to also delay it?

To put it another way, you can't delay something that doesn't exist, so whether it's intentional or not, the fact that House GOP leadership is already talking about trying to delay Obamacare is proof positive that when the dust settles from the shutdown fight, they expect Obamacare to be alive and well. It's either that, or Republicans don't think repealing Obamacare is enough: They won't be satisfied until they delay it too.

Oh, and one last thing. Does House Republican leadership actually think using the debt limit to delay Obamacare is a viable strategy? Take it away, Mr. Boehner:

In their discussion, Hannity pressed Boehner on those options, but the speaker said he would support neither.

“There will be opportunities ahead,” Boehner said. “But do you want to risk the full faith and credit of the United States government over ObamaCare? That’s a very tough argument to make.”

So no defunding, no delaying ... but a whole bunch of posturing. No wonder Congress is so popular.

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