House Conservatives: Obama-Senate Deal Won't Be Last Word on Obamacare
Conservative House members are not throwing in the towel on fiscal negotiations just yet, even though Senate Republicans are trying to cut a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama.
"The problem with Senate Republicans is that they always want to have a fight the next time," Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), a leader of the conservative block in the House, said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper Monday. "They always want to wait until the next time. If they continue to pussyfoot around like they do in these battles, they're never going to be able to take back the Senate."
Labrador said during that interview that he is unsure whether he or the majority of other conservatives would be able to support whatever fiscal deal comes out of the Senate or out of House GOP leadership, or what those deals may look like. But he called on President Obama to grant a one-year delay of all of Obamacare in exchange for a Continuing Resolution (CR) for a full year. “I like to do something where I get something, he gets something,” Labrador said of that negotiating tactic.
House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has said, according to an interview he did with conservative radio host Charlie Sykes, that he offered a similar deal to the president. Ryan said he offered a one-year delay of Obamacare’s individual mandate in exchange for a six-week “clean” debt ceiling.
According to Ryan, the president stalled, then balked at his and House Speaker John Boehner’s offer. “The President said, 'I'm not going to say yes, I'm not going to say no. Let's just think about this,’” Ryan said. “He spent the next day basically stalling us, only to call back John Boehner Friday night to say 'No deal, I won't do this. I won't sit down and talk to you guys.'”
Ryan added that he believes he can get some Obamacare concessions out of the president though.
Other House conservatives, like Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), are fairly confident that such Obamacare concessions are possible. "From my point if view, we really need to put a plan in place to get the budget balanced and keep it balanced,” Barton told reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday, according to Breitbart News’ Kerry Picket. “Spending is out of control. I'm not going to vote for anything that's doesn't do that. The Obamacare issue is a big issue.
"It's a huge new entitlement," Barton explained. "It's not sustainable, but it's unlikely to get the president to repeal his signature policy achievement. I would focus on some reforms on Obamacare in the short term and then let's really work hard to get the budget back in balance and keep it balanced.”
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) called on Senate Republicans—who he termed the “Republican Surrender Caucus”—to stand together with House Republicans against Obamacare. Huelskamp also said President Obama should come to the table to negotiate and stop trying to scare the American people. “President Obama and the entire Administration needs to end the scare tactics on the debt ceiling,” Huelskamp said. “We won’t default on our debts unless Barack Obama decides to default. We have no payments due to our creditors on October 17th, and no major payments due before November 15th. To attempt to manipulate financial markets for political gain is just plain wrong. At the same time, we cannot sit idly by and ignore the massive over-spending crisis here in Washington.”
“In their last campaign, I believe nearly every elected Republican in Washington committed to fight against ObamaCare and/or do something about the massive $17 trillion debt,” Huelskamp added. “Instead of shrinking again into what appears to be a ‘Republican Surrender Caucus,’ let’s stand firm on the principles of a balanced budget and smaller government—starting with the biggest driver of new government spending, ObamaCare.”
An aide to a House conservative member told Breitbart News that regardless of what Boehner, Ryan, and other members of House GOP leadership end up coming out with for a proposal, conservatives in the House still maintain a great deal of leverage over leadership. “I have no doubt the establishment would love to cave,” that aide said. "They would have done it a month ago, if they could have, but the House conservatives have grown a lot stronger compared to 2011/2012, and just as importantly, leadership is more cognizant of the conservatives' strength. So I'm not so sure things are winding down quickly with an establishment victory."
Even members close to leadership are indicating unhappiness with the supposed Senate deal. "We believed we that we could have worked with the president and then the president dropped us like a hot potato, because our deal—he didn't want to deal with and he wanted to deal with the Senators and that's what he said,” Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), the chairman of the House Rules Committee, told reporters on his way out of a meeting in Boehner’s office Monday, according to Breitbart News’ Picket. Sessions is facing a primary challenge from Dallas-area Tea Party activist Katrina Pierson, but as chairman of the House Rules Committee, he is essential to whatever strategy leadership develops as his committee sets the terms of debate and discussion for any legislation including this type of deal on the House floor.
Despite the apprehension from conservatives and leadership-aligned Republicans alike on the House side, it is still unclear what is happening on the Senate side. “This is typical Washington backroom deal making,” one congressional GOP aide said in an email to Breitbart News. “No one will know what is actually in the text until just before they vote on the proposal.”
The aide adds that what is known about the Senate deal that is in the works, from leaks to the press, is that it does “nothing to address Obamacare crushing our economy, exploding federal spending, and driving up insurance premiums.”
Tea Party Patriots is calling on grassroots activists to pressure their members of Congress to make sure that Obamacare remains the focus. “As the days of this government ‘shutdown’ continue to pass more and more pressure is mounting for a deal to be made,” the conservative group, which has led on this fight for months, said in an action alert to its members. “What we've seen over the last several days is the lack of talk about Obamacare. This is unacceptable and any deal that is made must include relief for the American people from Obamacare.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of the Senate Republicans publicly leading the charge pushing for a deal, has said that the "best thing" for the GOP would be to allow Obamacare to proceed untouched.