By Erik Wasson - 09/19/13 02:20 PM EDT
President Obama on Thursday promised he would veto the government funding bill from House Republicans that would defund his healthcare law, raising the stakes in the fight over a government shutdown.
The White House noted the House bill would end all funding for ObamaCare and accused Republicans of pursuing a "narrow ideological agenda."
"The Resolution would defund the Affordable Care Act, denying millions of hard-working middle class families the security of affordable health coverage," the veto threat states.
The statement does not give any wiggle room. Whereas some veto threats say senior advisers recommend a veto, this one says, "if the President were presented with H.J. Res. 59, he would veto the bill."
Obama is unlikely to ever face the veto decision, since the spending bill has no chance of clearing the Senate with the language to defund ObamaCare included.
The statement says Obama is willing to support a short-term bill to fund the government since none of the 12 annual appropriations bills have passed this year ahead of the start of fiscal 2014 on Oct. 1. The core of the House bill is an 11-week continuing resolution at the current sequester level.
"The Administration is willing to support a short-term continuing resolution to allow critical Government functions to operate without interruption and looks forward to working with the Congress on appropriations legislation for the remainder of the fiscal year that preserves critical national priorities, protects national security, and makes investments to spur economic growth and job creation for years to come," the statement says.
The statement is mum on the level of funding Obama would need to see in a continuing resolution to accept it.
In a separate speech Thursday, Obama defended the health law on economic grounds.
“One of the reasons we are more competitive is because healthcare costs have actually stabilized relative to what we had been seeing in previous years,” he told his Export Council at the White House. “Thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the cost of healthcare is now growing at the slowest rate in 50 years.”
Some Democrats, led by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) want to play hardball once the Senate rejects the House bill.
They want the top-line spending level to rise from the current $986 billion per year to the $1.058 trillion that would occur if the automatic sequester cuts are turned off.