Pressure intensifies on House GOP leaders to defund ObamaCare

House Republicans are intensifying pressure on their leaders to demand that defunding ObamaCare be part of any government spending bill.

Eighty members of the House Republican conference signed on to a letter sent to GOP leaders Thursday demanding that any spending bill that reaches the House floor be free of funds to implement or enforce the president's healthcare reform law.

Not a single member of GOP leadership signed the letter, however, nor did any major committee chairmen, which could signal that the effort has yet to gain traction.

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"We urge you to affirmatively de-fund the implementation and enforcement of ObamaCare in any relevant appropriations bill brought to the House floor in the 113th Congress, including any continuing appropriations bill," the letter stated. "We look forward to collaborating to defund one of the largest grievances in our time and to restore patient-centered healthcare in America."

The letter does not state whether the signers will vote against a bill that includes ObamaCare funds.

House Republicans backing the move include a number of high-profile conservatives, including Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.) and Tim Huelskamp (Kan.).

Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.) were the only chairmen to sign the letter. They head the House Ethics and Small Business committees, respectively.

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Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) gathered the signatures, as conservative lawmakers continue to mount a campaign for Republicans to stand their ground on the issue during the fall's debate on spending. He also made clear he is looking for more members to join the cause beyond the existing total, which is roughly a third of House Republicans.

"We want House leadership to know they have a large group of members ready to stand with them to stop the president’s destructive and unaffordable health care law," he said in a statement. "Despite sending the letter today, I will continue to keep a running list of members who choose to lend their names to this crucial effort."

Several leading Senate Republicans are pushing to defund ObamaCare as well. However, such an approach has not been wholly embraced by other Republicans, including some in leadership, who fear forcing a standoff that could shut down the government would be a political loser for the party.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders are also discussing ways to delay to the healthcare law as part of a deal to raise the debt limit, which Congress will have to deal with shortly after reaching a spending accord. Congress must pass a spending bill by Oct. 1 to avoid a government shutdown, and the debt limit will likely need to be raised sometime in October or November.