Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has promised to lead the charge in defunding the Affordable Care Act since President Obama signed the law in March of 2010, but last night, his effort faced a setback after Republicans on the House Rules Committee refused to “grant a waiver for the consideration of an amendment to the 2011 funding bill that would bar mandatory spending” for the health law. House rules stipulate that “members cannot legislate on appropriations bills,” which King’s amendment would have done by eliminating $105 billion in mandatory spending from the health law.
But Republicans on the committee argued that the party would be better served by focusing on the $100 billion in cuts offered in the GOP’s continuing resolution proposal and suggested that King’s amendment would be dead on arrival in the Senate and would therefore jeopardize the party’s cherished spending cuts.
REP. PETE SESSIONS (R-TX): “This is a big week in Washington DC for the $100 billion and I just want you to know, I’m very focused on the amendments that you’re bringing, the ideas that you bring. I’m also very focused on getting the $100 billion done as best as we can, knowing that we have tried to sell this across the country. We would want to put pressure on the Senate and the President with actual spending this year.”
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) reiterated Sessions’ point and added that King would have opportunities to add his amendment to other appropriations bill. She maintained that granting a modified open rule would open the party to charges of procedural gimmickry.
REP. VIRGINIA FOXX (R-NC): “You are asking us to change the rules here in the Rules Committee and what that does is open us up to the same accusations that were made of our colleagues across the aisle over the last four years in terms of them not being fair to us. And I think that’s’ putting us in a very hard position.”
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King dismissed these worries and maintained that the continuing resolution offered Republicans the best opportunity and the greatest leverage to go after the mandatory spending in the law. “There is $4.9 billion in this fiscal year that’s automatically appropriated and then the balance of it, roughly another $100 billion gets automatically appropriated to implement Obamacare unless we find a vehicle to shut it off Obamacare will be implemented and it can happen on our watch while we’re cutting a couple of billion,” he cautioned.
King said he still plans to offer his amendment on the floor, although he concedes that it will probably fall to a point of order. Republicans are also planning to offer a separate amendment that would defund the discretionary spending for this year.