As Congress returns to Washington after a five-week recess, there’s a lot left to get done. Among other things, lawmakers must determine whether to authorize military strikes in Syria, agree on a temporary spending bill to prevent the government from being forced to shut down, continue working on immigration reform legislation, and decide if they’re going to address any of the budget cuts that resulted from sequestration.
Nevertheless, some House Republicans are still insistent on focusing their efforts on Obamacare, even at the expense of some of those other issues.
Since the GOP hasn’t yet decided whether to attach a rider to the upcoming spending bill to defund the health reform law, some Tea Party members — including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rand Paul (R-KY) — are using their energy this week to try to convince congressional leaders to include it. A rally planned for Tuesday intends to put more pressure on Republicans to use the spending bill to provoke yet another battle over Obamacare.
Tuesday’s rally is supposed to be the culmination of several anti-Obamacare events across the country this summer, a “grassroots” push spearheaded by the right-wing Heritage Foundation. The Hill reports that the Tea Party Patriots are booking charter buses to transport supporters from about 30 towns across the Midwest and the South to the event.
They’re pressing ahead with their anti-Obamacare event despite the fact that it’s the same day that President Obama will deliver a public address about why he believes the U.S. should intervene in Syria.
Anti-Obamacare activists say they can’t delay their campaigns against the health reform law because any efforts to undermine it will be the most effective before its major provisions take effect. And they’re running out of time. Obamacare’s new state-level insurance marketplaces open for enrollment in less than a month.
But over the past three years, House Republicans have already put an enormous effort into unsuccessful attempts to dismantle the law. The GOP-led House has held 40 separate votes to delay, defund, or repeal Obamacare. Collectively, those Republican lawmakers have voted to get rid of the health reform law a staggering 7,386 times. The New York Times estimates that amounts to 15 percent the House’s total time on the floor.
Despite the right-wing faction of the Republican Party that has been insistently pushing to shut down the federal government in order to defund Obamacare, that policy is widely unpopular. Mainstream Republicans have backed away from the idea. And according to a recent poll, just seven percent of Republican voters favor defunding the law as the best approach to try to block Obamacare.