By Elise Viebeck - 06/12/14 10:51 AM EDT
The Senate Appropriations Committee delayed a vote on a health spending bill after Republicans reportedly indicated they would force several uncomfortable votes on ObamaCare.
The move by panel chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) sets up a conflict with colleague Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who leads the subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and wants to see his bill advance.
Republicans are reportedly planning to force several politically painful votes related to the healthcare law when the spending bill comes up for approval.
Endangered Democrats like Sens. Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Mary Landrieu (La.) are members of the committee, and leaders are interested in protecting them from votes that could heighten ObamaCare as an issue in their campaigns.
The delay was first reported Thursday by The Associated Press.
Harkin had previously said that his measure would see a vote on Thursday, but Mikulski never scheduled it. An email from her staff said the timetable was "under review."
“Senator Harkin worked hard on a bill that meets critical needs with funding for Head Start, NIH, and to ensure the maximum Pell Grant award. He remains hopeful that we can still get on the bill this year," said Harkin spokeswoman Kate Frischmann in a statement.
Updated at 12 p.m.