Senate

GOP attempt to block funding for DC’s individual mandate fails in Senate

Greg Nash

A Republican attempt to include a provision in a government funding bill that would block the District of Columbia from using money to implement its own individual health-care mandate failed in the Senate on Wednesday.

Senators voted 54-44 to table the amendment from GOP Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas). The vote effectively pigeonholes the proposal with the Senate poised to pass the larger funding bill on Wednesday.

“If you vote to table this amendment, you are voting to raise taxes on low-income D.C. residents who are struggling to make ends meet,” Cruz said ahead of the vote.

{mosads}Cruz and GOP Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) introduced the amendment to the funding bill, which includes money for the departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Interior, Housing and Urban Development, and financial services.

With 60 votes needed to pass government funding bills in the Senate, the GOP health-care proposal wasn’t expected to be included in the funding bill. Including the provision could have sunk its chances of passing the Senate, where Republicans need roughly 10 votes from Democrats.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) added that he would oppose the amendment, though he agrees with the policy, in an effort to maintain “regular order” in the government funding process.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, said that he and Shelby had worked hard to keep “poison pills” out of appropriations bills and labeled Cruz’s proposal a “partisan poison pill.”

“Here we’re telling the District of Columbia, ‘we’ll tell you what to do.’ That’s not democracy,” he said.

House Republicans got a similar provision into their funding bill earlier this month. The two bills will need to be worked out in a conference committee.

The District of Columbia passed its individual health insurance requirement earlier this year. Similar to the federal mandate, most individuals will either have to have health insurance or pay a penalty.

Several states have considered implementing their own health insurance mandate after Republicans used their tax bill to gut the federal individual mandate after 2018.

Tags Marco Rubio Mike Lee Patrick Leahy Richard Shelby Ron Johnson Ted Cruz Tom Cotton

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