Movement to defund ObamaCare grows

A growing group of congressional Republicans is pushing leaders to defund ObamaCare in the next government spending bill, setting the stage for a showdown in September, when the current continuing resolution expires. 

Twelve Senate Republicans sent a letter Thursday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declaring they would not support a government funding bill unless it excludes funds for the healthcare law.

And 66 House Republicans, more than one quarter of the conference, have signed on to a similar letter from Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) urging Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) not to allow votes on a government funding bill unless it chokes off money for the Affordable Care Act.

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Supporters see these efforts as their last chance to cripple healthcare reform before its major provisions take effect in October. But the government will shut down after Sept. 31 unless the House, Senate and the White House reach an agreement on another continuing resolution or appropriations bill.

President Obama is almost certain to reject a measure that kills funds for his signature healthcare reform law, and the schism will yield a major confrontation if Republican leaders in Congress decide to pursue the strategy urged by conservatives.

Right-leaning advocacy groups Heritage Action and the Club for Growth have indicated that they back the efforts headed by Lee and Meadows, adding pressure to Republicans who face primary challenges in the next election.

The Senate letter received signatures from Marco Rubio (Fla.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Jim Risch (Idaho), Rand Paul (Ky.), James Inhofe (Okla.), David Vitter (La.), John Thune (S.D.), Jeffrey Chiesa (N.J.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Deb Fischer (Neb.), and Chuck Grassley (Iowa). Thune is a member of Senate GOP leadership. 

"We believe the only way to avert disaster is to fully repeal ObamaCare and start over with a more sensible, practical approach to reforming our healthcare system," the senators wrote to Reid.

Their vow not to "support any [measure] ... that funds further implementation or enforcement of ObamaCare" indicates they could filibuster a government spending bill in order to compel ObamaCare cuts.