By Elise Viebeck - 09/15/13 10:00 AM EDT
Conservatives claim a new poll shows they are winning the battle over defunding ObamaCare.
The CNN poll released this week found only 39 percent of voters hold favorable views of the healthcare law.
Heritage Action Communications Director Dan Holler said the poll highlights momentum is on the side of those arguing the healthcare law is not ready for primetime and should be delayed.
Conservatives are pushing to defund or delay ObamaCare, he said, because “[Republican] constituents want this. Folks outside of Washington are clamoring for this.”
House GOP leaders are in a tight spot on moving a measure to fund the government through Congress because of the pressure from conservatives. If Congress does not pass a funding measure by Oct. 1, the government will shut down, and many Republicans worry they could take the blame.
GOP leadership delayed their plan this week to have the House vote on a funding measure intended to force the Senate into a vote on defunding ObamaCare. Conservatives said they were unsatisfied with the GOP plan, which would have allowed the Senate to send a final funding bill to the White House that included funding for the healthcare law.
On Thursday, 42 lawmakers introduced a bill to delay ObamaCare. Another eight lawmakers added their names to the bill within 24 hours. Three committee chairman were on board as of Friday: Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) of Homeland Security, Candice Miller (R-Mich.) of House Administration and Jeb Hensarling (Texas) of Financial Services.
Heritage Action believes that pressure will build on GOP leaders in the coming weeks as grassroots conservatives push Republicans to sign on to the bill.
“The folks who elected the Republican majority in the House want ObamaCare gone and off the books,” Holler said. “In our view, it's a matter of will. It's a matter of [leaders] having the willingness to stand up and fight for the conservative values they say they believe in.”
A senior GOP aide pushed back strongly against the idea that the defund-ObamaCare movement is responsible for the apparent decrease in the law's popularity, citing instead recent reports of businesses dropping healthcare coverage.
"The plan proposed earlier this week forces Democrats in the Senate to take a vote on defunding ObamaCare and allows Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee to have the fight they have been wanting for five weeks. Why don't they want to have that fight?" the aide said.
"House Republicans have been fighting ObamaCare for three years and we have seen several victories," the aide added.
Cruz (R-Texas) and Lee (R-Utah) are the defunding movement's main proponents in the Senate.
Democrats and supporters of the healthcare law highlight surveys from the Kaiser Family Foundation, including one from August, that have consistently found opposition to defunding the law as a way to kill its implementation.
They argue the public prefers fixing flaws in the law on a case-by-case basis.
“For every poll showing ObamaCare generally struggling in approval, there’s two polls showing strong support for the individual elements of the law when respondents hear about them,” said Americans United for Change spokesman Jeremy Funk.
“It’s abundantly clear the majority of Americans want Congress to move on with implementation and any fix any problems as they come, not scrap the whole thing and leave everyone again susceptible to the worst insurance company abuses.”
Heritage’s Holler sais his group will not accept concessions smaller than a one-year delay. Repealing the controversial Independent Payment Advisory Board or the medical-device tax, he said, won’t be enough.
“We believe there is a ton of bad stuff in ObamaCare, but the most threatening are the entitlement pieces,” he said, referring to tax credits that will be available on the new marketplaces.
Supporters of the healthcare law see it as equal to Medicare and Social Security, programs that have gained immense popularity over time.
“One thing is inevitable: once more and more people personally see the benefits of the law the harder it will be for the benefits to be taken away,” said Funk with Americans United for Change.
“That’s the reason conservatives are hell bent on trying to stop this law now. They’re afraid it’s going to work.”