House Blocks Obamacare, Govt. Shutdown Looms

by Krystin Arneson

Government shutdown systems are on red alert over on Capitol Hill: A spending bill set to defund Obamacare passed in the House Friday, as the battle now moves on to the Senate. The bill would continue funding for the government at current levels for almost three months, but would remove appropriated for Obamacare, meaning it would likely be vetoed by the president — should it pass the Senate. Should a version of the bill not pass in the next 11 days, the government will be thrust into partial shutdown.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has already vowed that it won't pass as-stands, and appears to be channeling Walter White. "In case there's any shred of doubt in the minds of our House counterparts," Reid said. "I want to be absolutely crystal clear: Any bill that defunds Obamacare is dead, dead.”

Instead, he and other top Senate Democrats have sworn to get funding for Obamacare back in the bill by removing clauses that get rid of its funding.

This, in and of itself, will take up a ton of time, thanks to procedures implemented by Republican senators. And it doesn't help that conservatives are ready to filibuster. Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) told PBS he promises to “do everything and anything possible to defund Obamacare."

But even if the bill should pass Senate, Obama warned Congress yesterday that he would veto any legislation that defunds Obamacare.

In any case, time is of the essence. Obamacare funding is tied up in the bill with the rest of the very necessary money allocated to other federal agencies. Even though Obamacare is only one part of the bill, if legislation doesn’t pass, non-essential agencies won’t get any money. And without money to spend after Oct. 1…

Voilá, government shutdown.

Reid says he doesn’t expect Senate Republicans to hold their ground for long. Already, he says, “there’s really some wrangling among the ranks … Now we have battles going among ... Republicans in the Senate. So let’s just wait and see if they have a stomach for closing the government.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) isn’t one of the Republican hopefuls. “In the U.S. Senate, we will not defund ObamaCare,” McCain said on CNN. “And to think we can is not rational.” We never thought we'd say this, but McCain is making some sense.

Even if the shutdown were to take place, it's likely that funding for Obamacare can still continue: According to a Congressional Research Report, even under shutdown, "substantial" funding would likely still be implemented.

Should Obamacare prevail, House Republicans are likely preparing for their next fight: If the Democrats try to raise the national debt ceiling — something they desperately want to do — Republicans will attach its passage to a one-year delay in the healthcare law.

So there's that to look forward to.