Conservatives in House pushing one-year Obamacare delay in CR

Conservatives in the House on Friday were rallying around a plan to send the Senate a continuing resolution attached to a one-year delay of ObamaCare.

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The new provision by conservative is seen as a compromise from a permanent defunding of President Obama’s signature healthcare overhaul, but it could raise the odds of a government shutdown on Tuesday. 

Senate Democrats are likely to reject the move.

“I think it’s got tremendous support. Maybe not from our leadership. Hopefully we’ll get our leaders to follow,” Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) said. 

House GOP leaders tried to sell rank-and-file members on a plan to attach a one-year delay to a debt ceiling increase that is needed by mid-October. Conservatives said Friday they do not want to move on to the debt ceiling issue before completing their standoff on the CR.

Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) on Friday is planning to announce an amendment to the “clean” continuing resolution that the the Senate sent to the House on Friday, a GOP aide said. The amendment would delay ObamaCare.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) said leadership appeared to resist the new Graves idea, but members would push it at the next conference meeting. 

“[Graves] had the last one … there may be a few other twists and turns in it,” Huelskamp said. 

Other members seemed to see an opening in comments by Sen. Joe Manchin (R-W.Va.) who said Wednesday he would vote for a one-year delay of provisions such as the individual mandate to buy insurance. 

“Sen. [Joe] Manchin said he would support a delay. I think a delay is a better strategy,” Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) said. “It gives us the opportunity to keep the public’s attention on the flaws of ObamaCare.”

Womack said that the one-year delay could go on the CR but so could a repeal of ObamaCare’s medical device tax. He was circumspect about whether he would accept a clean CR if the one-year delay tactic did not work. 

“A government shutdown is counterproductive to our message in 2014. It puts the focus away from the flaws on ObamaCare and until the pain the will be inflected, as yet to be determined, of a shutdown,” he said. 

Womack serves on the Appropriations Committee where most members are generally more concerned about getting a chance to pass detailed 2014 appropriations bills rather than defunding ObamaCare. 

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), also a member of the committee, was gloomy about a shutdown on Friday.

Asked if one can be avoided, Rooney said “I don’t know.”

“The shutdown doesn’t do anything to help our reputation as an incompetent Congress,” he said. “People hire us not to get to this point in the first place.”

Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said he is not preparing a backup one-week CR but could quickly do one if needed. 

“It doesn’t take long to do,” he said. “We’ve got to congeal a plan and execute it.”

Rogers was asked if he was also gloomy on a shutdown.

“No, I’m happy!” he said making a wide, sarcastic grimace.