Boehner challenges Senate GOP to 'get the job done' on defunding

Greg Nash

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) challenged Senate Republicans Thursday to fight hard for a House GOP plan to defund ObamaCare in a stopgap spending bill, saying they must “pick up the mantle and get the job done.” 

“We’ll deliver a big victory in the House tomorrow and then this fight will move over to the Senate, where it belongs,” Boehner said at a Capitol news conference. “I expect my Senate colleagues to be up for the battle.”

His rhetoric came a day after he bowed to conservative demands to strip out funds for the healthcare law in a bill to avoid a government shutdown after Sept. 30.

The decision led to a rare round of intraparty jousting between Republicans in the House and Senate over which chamber needed to put up the bigger fight over the healthcare law. 

House Republicans were incensed by a statement from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a leader of the defund campaign, that suggested the battle in the Senate was already lost because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would have the votes to remove the ObamaCare provision from the bill.

The Speaker did not directly reference Cruz, but he made clear the onus would be on the Senate once the House passes its bill on Friday. 

“I’m not going to speculate on what the Senate’s going to do or not do, but the fight here has been won. The fight over there is just beginning,” Boehner said. “I expect my Senate colleagues to do everything they can to defund this law, just like the House is going to do.”

Pressed on the point, an agitated Boehner added: “Guess what? We’re having the fight over here. We’re going to win the fight over here, and it’s time for them to pick up the mantle and get the job done.”

He would not say whether he would be willing to bring up a bill that lacked majority Republican support if the Senate returned the House measure with funding for ObamaCare restored.

The Speaker also strongly hinted Congress would have to remain in session next weekend to avert a shutdown. House Republicans have already canceled a recess scheduled for next week.

“It’s way too early for that,” he said in reference to discussion about the House’s next move. “We’ll have plenty of time next weekend to speculate.”