House Republican leaders on Wednesday will try to sell a new, short-term spending plan to their rank-and-file that would dodge a government shutdown while defunding the new health care law.
Republican aides told the Washington Examiner that the proposal is loosely based on legislation introduced by Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., that would defund the health care law known as Obamacare while extending government funding.
But unlike the Graves measure, which would extend funding for the rest of the fiscal year, the GOP leadership version, would provide only a three-month extension.
It's a move that provides more time for Republican leaders to negotiate a long-term fiscal 2014 spending deal with Democrats that also deals with the health care law that many in the GOP are determined to block.
Government funding runs out on Sept. 30, which is the end of the fiscal year. Republicans are eager to avoid a politically damaging government shutdown, with polls showing their party will be blamed the most if one should occur.
The three-month tactic also puts immediate pressure on a faction of more than one dozen Senate Republicans, led by Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas, who are insisting Congress defund Obamacare in the government spending bill.
The Lee-Cruz faction of Senate Republicans last week pressured House conservatives to reject a GOP proposal that would have funded the government until Dec. 15 while forcing a separate Senate vote on whether to defund Obamacare. Republican leaders pulled the bill from the House floor after conservatives signaled they would reject it.
Many Senate Republicans, meanwhile, seem content to let their GOP colleagues in the House grapple with the infighting within their own party.
"Good luck to the House," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said.
Graham has not signed onto the Lee-Cruz approach.
"I want to defund Obamacare, but I also don't want to cut off Social Security and stop paying the military. I think this tactic is not the best choice we could have made, but it's up to the House."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is a fierce critic of the health care law, has also declined to sign onto the Lee-Cruz tactic.
"The question at this point is, what will the House send us?" McConnell said Tuesday when asked about the government funding bill. "It's up to them. We will react to what they send us and be happy to vote on it at that point."
Senate Republicans may have to deal with the legislation sooner than McConnell had anticipated.
The House could vote on the short-term proposal as early as this week if leaders are able to sell it to the GOP conference on Wednesday.
Passage will likely require mostly GOP support since Democrats want to restore to the money cut under the sequester. The GOP proposal will not restore sequestered funding.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Tuesday he is opposed to any spending bill that does not "repeal or very substantially change the sequester."