On Friday, the House is expected to pass a continuing resolution to extend funding for government, but also strip all discretionary spending to implement ObamaCare. If enacted, the House action would allow government to remain open but erect a huge obstacle to ObamaCare. While all of the media is consumed with an internal GOP debate on this issue, the true target of such a move has escaped notice. If the House proceeds with its vote, several vulnerable Democrat Senators face a series of bad choices.
Over the August recess, Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee built grass-roots momentum to defund ObamaCare through the continuing resolution that must pass by the end of September. Many commentators criticized the move, arguing that the Senate and Obama would never agree to defunding their signature policy achievement. Those commentators are missing the point. While there is no practical way to defund ObamaCare, since most of the spending supporting the law is mandatory and not subject to Congressional appropriations, the House move puts an unwelcome spotlight on several vulnerable Senate Democrats. They will be forced, just a little over a year ahead of mid-term elections, to again take a stand on ObamaCare.
Republicans needs to pick up 6 seats to take control of the Senate. They are currently favored to pick up three seats, in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana. Three more Democrat incumbents are endangered, Mark Pryor (AR), Mary Landrieu (LA) and Kay Hagen (NC). With the House action, all three will be forced to go on record, either supporting or opposing ObamaCare. It is not an easy choice.
The full implementation of ObamaCare begins in two weeks. As the deadline approaches, polls show the health care law even more unpopular than when it was passed in 2010. At that time, problems with the law were abstract. Today, with employers cutting hours, shifting to part-time employees or dropping health coverage, the problems with the law are very real. Taking a vote now to continue with the law is the worst possible choice for Democrats up for reelection next year.
Which is the entire point of this move by Sens. Cruz and Lee. The target isn’t to rally the Tea Party or call out RINOs, it is to force Senate Democrats to again endorse ObamaCare. The media focus on a GOP internal civil war is meant to obscure this fact. Everyone cautioned the House GOP against this move, for the very reason that they didn’t want the Senate to have to vote on the issue again.
After the House vote on Friday, the Senate will have to again debate, and vote on, ObamaCare.