The House of Representatives has passed a continuing resolution that would keep the government funded through Dec. 15 and withhold funding for the Affordable Care Act. The 230–189 vote comes just 10 days before a possible shutdown and includes instructions authorizing the Treasury “to pay some bills and not others in the event that no deal is reached in October on increasing the debt limit.” Rep. Scott Rigel (VA) was the only Republican to vote against the measure, while just two Democrats — Reps. Jim Matheson (UT) and Mike McIntyre (NC) voted for it.
As the resolution now moves to the Senate, here is what you have to know about the fight ahead:
1. The House has voted to maintain sequestration cuts. The continuing resolution totals $986.3 billion in overall discretionary funding and includes 100 percent of next year’s sequester spending cuts for nondefense programs and services and about 60 percent of the automatic defense spending cuts. These levels of spending are approximately $70 billion lower than the spending caps originally laid out in the Budget Control Act of 2011.
2. Republicans didn’t actually defund Obamacare. Defunding Obamacare in the continuing resolution only targets the parts of the law that are subject to annual appropriations. The pillars of reform — Medicaid expansion, the subsidies used to buy insurance — are exempt from this process and are funded through so-called “mandatory” spending and have permanent funding authority. The Department of Health and Human Services, the agency tasked with implementing reform, also “has the ability to fund related provisions without seeking additional appropriations from Congress.” The Congressional Budget Office estimates that there is “at least $50 billion in specified and estimated authorizations of discretionary spending” that Republicans could presumably target.
3. What comes next. The Senate is expected to file cloture on the House CR on Friday night, but will not vote until the end of next week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will likely strip the Obamacare defunding provisions from the bill and send the measure back to the House. The Senate will need 60 to get on the bill, 51 votes on the substitute and then 60 votes to move to a final vote. It is unclear if Boehner will bring the Senate version to the floor, though he will likely need Democratic support to ensure passage. Congress must pass a budget agreement by Sept. 30 or the federal government will shutdown on Oct. 1.