POLITICS: PennAve

Boehner: No decision on government shutdown

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House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday presented House Republicans with a strategy for blocking Obamacare this fall after Congress returns from its August recess and declined to rule out shutting down the government if President Obama doesn't agree to defund the Affordable Care Act.

Boehner, R-Ohio, laid out his detailed legislative and political blueprint to blunt the implementation of Obamacare during a private morning meeting of the House Republican conference, according to a source who was in the room.

This source emphasized that Bohener did not dismiss a plan pushed by some congressional Republicans under which the GOP would shut down the government if Obama does not agree to defund Obamacare by refusing to back legislation needed to keep the government funded beyond the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year. Republicans are unified in their opposition to Obamacare, but disagree on the political effectiveness of the defund-or-shutdown tactic.

Boehner's strategy includes holding several votes designed to build on public dissatisfaction with Obamacare and undermine the statute, while also forcing Democrats to cast a series of tough votes that would require them to side with Obama or the public.

"We've got a strategy," Boehner reportedly told his colleagues. "This month has arguably been the most important moment in the three years since the law was signed. We passed bills to delay the employer mandate, and the individual mandate, the core of the law. Thirty-five Democrats defied the president and voted with us on ... [a] bill to authorize the delay of the employer mandate. Twenty-two Democrats defied the president and voted with us on ... [a] bill to delay the individual mandate. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich called these votes 'the beginning of the end' for Obamacare. We should view the delay votes this month as the opening salvo in a series of well-placed, targeted strikes that will ultimately dissolve the Obamacare coalition and topple this train wreck of a law."

Boehner said his strategy is achievable and told his members that the best way to defeat Obamacare is to remain unified. But the speaker also said that his plan is intended to demonstrate that there are additional avenues for blocking Obamacare beyond the defund-or-shutdown strategy now backed by more than 60 House Republicans.

"The president is fond of saying these Obamacare votes are 'meaningless,' " Boehner said, according to the source who was present for the speaker's remarks. "But I'd remind you he's already signed seven bills repealing or delaying parts of the law. We'll have to stick together and communicate. But this strategy is achievable. And it's our best shot at actually getting rid of Obamacare. Executing this strategy doesn't mean we can't do other things on Obamacare as well. This is designed to be a strategy we can build on."

The source who discussed Boehner's Obamacare presentation provided this written summary of the Ohio Republican's remarks:

• At this morning's meeting of the House Republican Conference, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, presented a strategy for building on the successful votes in the House this month to delay the president's health care law. The strategy: build on this month's votes with a series of well-placed, targeted strikes that will ultimately dissolve the Obamacare coalition and topple the president's train wreck of a law.

• The strategy outlined by the speaker does not rule out or in the tactic of attempting to defund the president's health care law through bills meant to prevent a government shutdown.

• The past month has arguably been the most important moment in the three years since the president's health care law was signed, the speaker noted, exposing serious cracks in the legislative coalition the president has relied upon to keep the unworkable health care law in place.

• The U.S. House of Representatives this month passed bills to delay both the law's employer mandate, and the individual mandate, the core of the law. 35 Democrats defied the president and voted with Republicans on a bill by Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., to authorize the delay of the employer mandate, while 22 Democrats defied the president and voted with the GOP on a bill by Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., to delay the individual mandate.

• Former Speaker Newt Gingrich called these votes "the beginning of the end" for the president's health care law. The strategy outlined by Speaker Boehner builds on the Griffin-Young votes to ensure that outcome with further votes that take aim at the soft underbelly of the president's health care law and maximize pressure on wavering Democrats who are already distancing themselves from it.

• House Republicans will begin to carry out the strategy this week with a vote on a bill by Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., to get the IRS out of the president's health care law. In the weeks and months ahead, the House will also vote on a bill to protect taxpayers by requiring verification for Obamacare subsidies; legislation to stop IPAB, the Obama administration's health care rationing board, which even former DNC chairman Howard Dean says is a major problem; legislation to get rid of the slush funds that the president is using to implement the law; and other targeted bills throughout the fall that fracture the president's coalition of support.

• Oversight will also be central to the House Republican strategy. To keep pressure on the administration and build the case for future votes, House Republicans will continue their ongoing oversight activities and take advantage of opportunities associated with the law's pending implementation. An extensive corresponding, coordinated communications effort will also be developed.

• While the president suggests such health care votes are "meaningless," Speaker Boehner noted the president has already signed no fewer than seven bills repealing or delaying parts of the law.

• The president's health care law is hurting our economy, raising costs, and making it harder for small businesses to hire. Republicans have a duty to the American people to work courageously and wisely until it is completely repealed.

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