House Republican leaders have put together a plan to couple a vote on taking money away from the health-care law with another to keep the government operating through mid-December.
“That would be two different votes in the House,” Representative Tom Latham, an Iowa Republican, said in an interview. Only after the Senate dispenses with the health-law measure would the House deliver the bill to prevent a government shutdown, he said.
The proposal will be put to rank-and-file Republicans at a meeting Tuesday morning, according to two leadership aides who weren’t authorized to speak on the record because the plan isn’t official.
The stopgap funding measure, called a continuing resolution, probably would maintain spending at about the current annualized rate of $988 billion from Oct. 1, when the new government fiscal year begins, through Dec. 15, said aides who spoke on condition of anonymity because they’re not authorized to speak publicly before a leadership announcement.
If the temporary spending measure is passed, the possibility of a government shutdown would be pushed to mid-October, when the government’s borrowing authority runs out. House Republicans have been talking about a new round of spending cuts or other conditions for passing legislation to raise the debt ceiling. President Barack Obama has refused to negotiate the terms of raising the borrowing authority.
White House officials and House Republicans have voiced a determination not to allow a default on outstanding government debt. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned in an Aug. 26 letter to Speaker John Boehner that the government would have difficulty functioning on tax revenue – about $50 billion a day.
That’s because the government must make 80 million payments each month to pay Social Security recipients, armed forces personnel as well as other obligations such as Medicare reimbursements to doctors and hospitals, Lew said.
Defunding or delaying implementation of the health-care law also could become part of the debt-limit debate. House Republicans have said that could be a condition they seek in exchange for their votes on raising the government’s borrowing authority.
The House has voted 40 times to repeal the law and 80 House Republicans signed a letter last month urging their leaders to support such a provision. That’s short of a “majority of the majority” that is usually the benchmark for consensus among the chamber’s 233 Republicans.
Obama’s aides have threatened a presidential veto of similar legislation in the past and majority Democrats in the Senate oppose putting that condition on a stopgap funding measure, so there would be a risk of a stalemate and government shutdown when the current fiscal year ends Sept. 30.
A vote on the temporary spending legislation is set for later this week, according to the legislative schedule posted on the website of House Republican Leader Eric Cantor.
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