“The purpose of this amendment is to advance economic growth and to delay funding for ObamaCare until there is economic growth,” Cruz said Wednesday. “At a minimum, ObamaCare should not be funded when our economy is gasping for breath.”
The Senate bill, negotiated by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), sets the same spending levels as a government funding measure approved by the House last week.
But the Senate bill adds three full appropriations measures to the House version. The House bill, H.R. 933, funded Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs programs, while the Senate version adds appropriations for Agriculture, Homeland Security and the Commerce, Justice and Science funds.
Mikulski said she wanted to include appropriations bills for Health, Transportation and Education, but said Republicans would not agree.
Cruz said that the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called “ObamaCare,” would force the United States into another recession.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said the amendment “is equivalent to repeal,” when speaking against Cruz’s amendment.
“This is the 34th time that someone on the Republican side has tried to do away with the Affordable Care Act and it’s failed every time,” Harkin said. “We’ve already made our decisions on that and we’re moving on.
“It’s almost like there is an obsession with some people on the other side of the aisle with tearing down health reform.”
Republicans have argued that the healthcare mandate raises taxes on businesses and individuals. They also point out that healthcare costs have increased since the law passed. But Harkin said that the law sets up healthcare exchanges to insure 32 million people who are currently uninsured — adding that the Cruz amendment would stop all of that.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has allowed amendment votes, but says he wants to finish work on the continued spending resolution by the end of the week in order to send it back to the House for a final vote. If the House and Senate do not agree to a measure by March 27, the government could shut down.