House Republicans attack healthcare 'slush fund' on floor

Reed also pointed out that Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has told Congress she believes she has unlimited spending authority to create the exchanges, which means the cost could rise above the estimated $14 billion.

"Slush funds and unlimited tabs on the Treasury must be the first to go, particularly when they are being used to fund a government-centered takeover of our nation's healthcare system that does not improve care, does not lower cost, and, simply, we cannot afford," Reed said.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) countered by arguing that the bill, H.R. 1213, and another healthcare bill being considered today, would repeal two elements of the healthcare law but keep the taxes in place that would fund these programs.

"What we're left with with these two bills … is actually the worst of both worlds," Polis said. "The Republicans leave in place the taxes that were used to pay for healthcare reform. They leave in place in these two bills the medical device tax, they leave in place the tax on unearned income, and yet they remove the benefits to the American people from these taxes."

Polis also argued that Republicans seemed to be ignoring their own mandate in H.Res. 9, approved in January, that instructs House committees to work on ways to replace the healthcare law.

But House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) argued that the committees are doing just that, and are working on ideas such as allowing people to buy health insurance across state lines, pooling coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and expanding medical savings accounts.

The House began debate on the rule to H.R. 1213 shortly after noon, and a vote on the rule is expected by 1:30 p.m. The rule also covers H.R. 1214, which would repeal a federal fund for the construction of health facilities in schools.