Boehner won't rule out defunding ObamaCare in stopgap measure

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying World McCarthy courts conservatives in Speaker's bid McCarthy faces obstacles in Speaker bid MORE (R-Ohio) on Wednesday did not rule out trying to defund President Obama’s healthcare law in a government funding fight this fall.

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying World McCarthy courts conservatives in Speaker's bid McCarthy faces obstacles in Speaker bid MORE said GOP leaders have made no decision on the matter, but used a closed-door GOP meeting Wednesday to defend the leadership’s strategy of “targeted strikes” against the law.

“We’ve made no decisions about how we’re going to proceed on the [continuing resolution],” Boehner told reporters after a House Republican conference meeting.

Republicans in both chambers have been feuding over whether to risk a government shutdown over funding for President Obama’s healthcare law. Congress must approve a stopgap spending bill by Sept. 30 to avoid a government shutdown.

A growing number of conservatives in the House and Senate want Republicans to refuse to fund the healthcare law in that bill, even if it results in a shutdown. Other Republicans have described that strategy as foolish, warning Obama and Senate Democrats would never agree to it and that Republicans would be blamed for a shutdown.

Boehner has been careful to avoid taking a public position in that debate, but privately he argued that his strategy of going after the law piece-by-piece was working.

“We’ll have to stick together and communicate. But this strategy is achievable,” the Speaker told his conference, according to a person in the room. “And it’s our best shot at actually getting rid of ObamaCare. Executing this strategy doesn’t mean we can’t do other things on ObamaCare as well. This is designed to be a strategy we can build on.”

He pointed out that Obama has signed seven separate bills to alter or repeal parts of the law, and he heralded House votes this month to delay the implementation of the employer and individual mandates, which drew the support of dozens of Democrats.

“We’ve got a strategy,” Boehner said in the meeting. “This month has arguably been the most important moment in the three years since the law was signed.”

Boehner cited the praise of former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who called the delay votes “the beginning of the end” for the law. “We should view the delay votes this month as the opening salvo in a series of well-placed, targeted strikes that will ultimately dissolve the ObamaCare coalition & topple this trainwreck of a law,” Boehner said.

At a press conference afterward, the Speaker wouldn’t say whether the continuing resolution was an effective means of stopping the healthcare law. In a study requested by Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnPension insolvency crisis only grows as Congress sits on its hands Paul Ryan should realize that federal earmarks are the currency of cronyism Republicans in Congress shouldn't try to bring back earmarks MORE (R-Okla.), the Congressional Research Service found that defunding the healthcare law in the continuing resolution would not halt it altogether, since much of it is funded by mandatory spending.

“I don’t know whether there’s a technical way to get at this or not, but we’ve made no decisions about how to proceed,” Boehner said.