Feb 22, 2011

House GOP Votes To Defund Healthcare Law

Posted by: Neal Stehly

Politico (2/19, Nather) reported, "The House voted Friday to block funding for the healthcare law in several ways -- starting the countdown to the defunding clash with Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama. As expected, lawmakers approved Rep. Denny Rehberg's amendment to the continuing resolution, which bars all payments to 'any employee, officer, contractor, or grantee of any department or agency' to implement the law." Rehberg's amendment specifically targets HHS and the Labor Department. In addition, GOP lawmakers "gave unexpected victories to Steve King of Iowa, approving broader measures to deny any implementation funds in the continuing resolution and block salaries to enforce the entire law."

        CQ Today (2/19, Weyl, subscription required) quoted Rehberg, "chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees" HHS, as saying, "This amendment can slow but not completely stop the process. ... I've tried everything within my power to write an amendment that would completely defund implementation, yet withstand a point of order." CQ noted that "debate echoed arguments lawmakers have made over the last two years. Republicans charged the law is an unconstitutional government takeover of healthcare and a budget-buster, while Democrats blasted attempts to eliminate consumer protections, such as allowing individuals with pre-existing conditions access to health coverage."

        The Hill (2/19, Pecquet) reported in its "Healthwatch" blog, "The continuing resolution faces high hurdles in the Democrat-controlled Senate. And President Obama announced he 'strongly opposes' it before the new amendments even passed." In fact, the Administration stated, "If the president is presented with a bill that undermines critical priorities or national security through funding levels or restrictions, contains earmarks, or curtails the drivers of long-term economic growth and job creation while continuing to burden future generations with deficits, the president will veto the bill."

        The Wall Street Journal (2/19, Zibel, Kendall, subscription required) also reported on the vote to defund the healthcare law, and pointed out that, for the most part, lawmakers voted along party lines. Reuters (2/19, Cowan, Ferraro) also covered the story.

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