On Monday evening, just an hour and a half before the government shut down, House Republicans voted to conference with Senate Democrats on a short-term measure that could keep the government functioning for the next six weeks. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) appointed eight Republican conferees to present the GOP’s third continuing resolution, a bill that would fund the government at post-sequester levels while delaying the individual mandate for one year and eliminating health insurance subsidies for lawmakers, their staffs and top Executive Branch appointees.
And while Democrats in the Senate promptly rejected the proposal — Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) argued that “We will not negotiate with a gun to our head” — Republicans are hoping to use the gambit to blame Democrats for failing to negotiate. ABC’s Jonathan Karl reported that Boehner’s conferees plan to to convene negotiations “across from empty chairs, demanding that Democrats at least sit down to talk.”
But the same GOP lawmakers who are accusing their colleagues of failing to budge, have themselves argued that undermining Obamacare in the short-term CR is a core principle and have yet to outline any concessions they are willing accept from the other side. Below is a closer look at their intransigence:
– Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA): Cantor has long advocated for using bills to fund the government and increase the debt ceiling as “leverage” for advancing Republican policy proposals. As the House voted on a last-ditch continuing resolution just hours ahead of a government shutdown, Cantor stressed that Congressional employees should not be able to use their government contributions to help pay for coverage in the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, tweeting, “The House just voted to work together in divided government to keep the government open and provide #FairnessForAll.”
– Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI): Following the shutdown, Camp issued a statement criticizing the Affordable Care Act for permitting members of Congress and their staff to receive a government contribution towards the purchase of health care and called on Senate Democrats to “set aside the partisanship and start working to find a quick resolution.” He argued that “Washington Democrats have chosen to shutdown the federal government.”
– Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY): Rogers described a GOP-backed continuing resolution that included an amendment to delay Obamacare for a year as “good governance” that would “keep the lights on in our government.” On Monday night, Rogers tweeted, “The House is not the body that is refusing to act. We aren’t the ones who are not willing to budge.” He later issued a statement calling for”common ground” with Democrats and insisted that a conference committee could “provide a small gleam of light at the end of this long tunnel.”
– Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI): Though Ryan has remained out of the public eye throughout the continuing resolution debate, he has publicly raised questions about Boehner’s strategy. “We have to stay on the right side of public opinion,” he told his colleagues last month. “Shutting down the government puts us on the wrong side. The fight is on the debt limit.” On Tuesday, however, Ryan issued a statement saying that Republicans “will take action” to prohibit Congressional employees from receiving government subsidized health insurance.
– Rep. John Carter (R-TX): Carter has pledged to “not give up our fight” in trying to defund Obamacare in a short-term continuing resolution.
– Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL): On Tuesday morning, Crenshaw issued a statement blaming the Senate for the shutdown. “Make no mistake about it, the House of Representatives has listened to the will of the American people, voting multiple times to fund government operations and stop Obamacare,” he said. “At every step, however, that movement met with obstruction from United States Senate, resulting in a government shutdown.”
– Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ): Frelinghuysen is one of the only appointees who has indicated any interest in finding common ground. “Obamacare is definitely not ready for prime time. But I do not want the government to shut down. I think after voting against it some 40 times, we have represented our constituents and made our point,” he said.
– Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA): On Sep. 24, Graves tweeted, “I stand with @SenTedCruz and his efforts to #DefundObamacare & #MakeDCListen. We need to make Dem Senators from LA, AR, AK, NC listen too.” The New Republican has reported that “It was Graves who took charge earlier this month in demanding that the defunding of Obamacare be a requirement for keeping open the government, and it is he who rebuffed Speaker John Boehner’s attempt… to keep the government running and delay the Obamacare fight until the debt ceiling showdown next month.”
The GOP has released this picture of “empty chairs”: