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Policy: Budgets & Deficits

House passes government spending bill stripping out Obamacare funding, fight heads to Senate

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The House on Friday passed a government funding resolution that strips out money for Obamacare, the toughest legislative move made so far by Republicans to block the implementation of the comprehensive health insurance reform law.

"We had a victory today for the American people," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said after the vote. "We had a victory for common sense."

The measure passed 230-189, relying on entirely on Republican support since Democrats remained united in their opposition to both the provision eliminating funding for Obamacare and the overall spending levels allowed under the bill, which they said is too low.

"Families all over America are struggling," Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said. "This budget resolution is designed to make it worse for them."

The resolution would keep the government funded until Dec. 15 at an annual cost of $986 billion, a figure that includes the across-the-board cuts required under a bipartisan sequester deal aimed at reducing the nation's debt.

House Republicans have voted more than 40 times to repeal or delay the health care law only to have each measure defeated by the Democratic Senate. This is the first time they attached the provision to a must-pass government funding measure.

The Senate will take up the House-passed measure next week. However, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is likely strip out the defunding provision and send the bill back to the House, where lawmakers will have to devise a new strategy to block Obamacare or allow the government to shut down on Oct. 1.

The two chambers have limited time to work out a compromise. The fiscal year runs out Sept. 30, after which government would run out unless a new stopgap budget bill is approved.

Passage of the House measure came after a heated, partisan floor debate in which Democrats denounced both the budget cuts and the health care provision included in the bill.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the resolution is "a measure designed to shut down the government" since House leaders already know that Senate Democrats have no intention of passing it.

Immediately after the vote Friday, Republicans left the House chamber and went to a nearby room for a rally celebrating their victory.

"The House has been fighting to stop Obamacare since 2009," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said. "Now it is up to Senate Democrats to show some responsibility and follow the House's lead. Many Senate Republicans have promised to leave no stone unturned in fighting this law and we are supporting that effort."

"Today we urge the Senate to take action," Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, R-Wash., said.

But only 14 Republicans in the Senate have publicly pledged to support the defunding of Obamacare and at least 41 votes are needed to filibuster against any Democratic alternative the Senate advances.

One Republican senator leading the defunding effort, Ted Cruz, of Texas, told the Washington Examiner only a "grassroots tsunami" of public opposition can help Seante Republicans win approval for defunding.

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