Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) told a townhall audience Tuesday that the GOP Leadership was afraid of picking a battle to defund ObamaCare. Several conservative lawmakers, led by UT Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), have threatened to strip funding to implement the unpopular law out of any continuing resolution to be passed next month to keep the government open.
“Our leadership is scared to death,” Gohmert told the crowd of about 200 activists. “They think if we have a shutdown, or a big showdown, we may lose the majority, and they will lose their leadership positions.”
The current continuing resolution funding government expires on September 30th. The Congress is expected to pass a short-term extension of the funding, while it debates an overall annual budget and likely increase in the nation’s debt ceiling. ObamaCare also takes effect the next day, October 1st, when the federal and state health care exchanges are set to open. Conservatives view the funding debate as the last real chance to gut the health care law.
Many Republicans are worried that if they stripped ObamaCare funding from the continuing resolution, Obama would veto the spending bill and force a shutdown of government. Many Republicans, especially those in leadership positions, worry that the party will be blamed for the shutdown.
Conservative leaders, like former Sen. Jim Demint, have dismissed those fears.
“The risk of that is so much less than the risk to our country if we implement ObamaCare, and so I’m not as interested in the political futures of folks who think they might lose a showdown with the president,” DeMint said at an Arkansas town-hall meeting hosted by Heritage Action.
Late Wednesday, Sen. Lee said that KS Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) became the 14th Senator to sign a letter calling for the defunding of ObamaCare. Lee said that the support from Roberts was a sign of the growing momentum behind the push for defunding.
“What does it say about Republicans if we’re not willing to stand up for what we know is best for the country,” Gohmert said on Tuesday. His remarks drew widespread applause from activists.