Now that President Obama's push for congressional authorization for bombing Syria has been placed on the back burner, House Republicans are beginning to unite around a plan that would delay Obamacare for a year in exchange for raising the debt limit and undoing the sequester.
First, a false start
On Tuesday, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., unveiled the first building block of the Republican fiscal fight strategy — a bill that would fund the federal government through December, but also force the Senate to take two votes on the legislation before it became law.
The first vote would be on defunding Obamacare, while providing full funding for the rest of the government. The second would fund everything, including Obamacare. For complicated — critics say gimmicky — parliamentary procedural reasons, the Senate to get to the second, it would have to vote on the first.
House Leadership wanted to vote on that bill Thursday, but the vote was delayed due to lack of support. "Obviously we don't have 218 [votes] or we wouldn't have pulled it," Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., told The Hill. Just 17 Republican defections would sink the bill in the House, since no Democrat is expected to back the GOP plan.
Sticking with the game plan
House leaders are still confident Cantor's plan is the right strategy, and that momentum is on their side. “Getting anything this big accomplished in 72 hours is always tough and we just need a couple extra days to dot the i's and cross the t's,” a House GOP leadership aide told National Review.
"We just have to walk them through and instead of overly rush, let's do it next week," Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told the Associated Press.
An early whip count showed that just over 200 Republicans currently support Cantor's plan, meaning they need about 15 more votes to get across the finish line.
The debt limit wrinkle
Ultimately, what conservatives skeptical of Cantor's plan really want, is a convincing game-plan for delaying Obamacare for at least another year, if not defunding it. And House Budget Committee Paul Ryan, R-Wis., pitched exactly such a plan to a closed-door Republican Study Committee meeting Wednesday.
The Washington Examiner's David M. Drucker reports that, under the Ryan plan, Republicans would agree to raise the debt limit for a year, and undo the scheduled automatic sequestration cuts, but in return, Obama would have to agree to a one-year delay of Obamacare.
“My take is, a consensus is all beginning to build,” Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said Wednesday as he exited the RSC meeting.
With new CNN polling showing that Obamacare is now more unpopular than ever, but that Republicans would be blamed for a government shutdown, a merger of the Cantor and Ryan plans makes a lot of sense.
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