It sounds good, cutting $105.5 billion in funding for ObamaCare through 2019 by including a provision in the stop-gap spending measures that are temporarily funding government until a real budget is passed. Some conservative Republicans like Rep. Michelle Bachmann and Rep. Steve King are speaking up and insisting that House Republican leadership include the provision, but so far leadership has not added it, and other conservative Republicans are agreeing with leadership. Which side is right?
There have been several short-term continuing resolutions extending government funding passed this year. The most recent one passed the House and Senate earlier this week, extending government funding through April 8. It includes $6 billion in spending cuts, $2.6 billion of which was earmarks, bringing to $10 billion in unexpected cuts Republicans have been able to negotiate with these bills. Fewer Republicans voted for the most recent extension, no doubt due to the escalating pressure to oppose it because it did not include a defunding mechanism for ObamaCare.
While it looks good to the voters to insist on including a provision defunding ObamaCare, the effect of adding the provision would likely result in a worse outcome. The Democrat-controlled Senate will not vote to pass a stop-gap bill that includes defunding all of ObamaCare, and President Obama especially would never sign a bill that guts the masterpiece of his administration. Without a stop-gap bill, there will be another government shutdown, something that backfired on the Republican Congress in the 1990’s. While it sounds good in theory to force government to shut down over ObamaCare, there is a very good chance doing so will induce a Pandora’s Box of distracting collateral issues, ruining any chances of repealing ObamaCare.
The last two stop-gap bills include $10 billion in spending cuts that would not have been obtained otherwise. This represents the classic scenario members of Congress encounter; do they vote against the stop-gap continuing resolutions, citing principle, or do they take the realistic approach that achieves real fiscal gains?
Unfortunately, several conservative organizations that grade candidates, including the Heritage Foundation’s new lobbying arm, Club for Growth, Family Research Council, and some Tea Party groups are scoring members of Congress poorly who vote for the continuing resolutions. It is rather unfair considering every Republican in the House voted to repeal ObamaCare in January. Voting for that bill is no different than voting for a stop-gap bill that includes defunding ObamaCare; the Senate and Obama will never approve either of them.