Republican unity on how to respond to President Obama’s decision to only selectively enforce Obamacare sure didn’t last long. Less than one full week after the Treasury and Health and Human Services Department formally released regulations delaying both the employer mandate and individual income verification requirements, House and Senate Republicans are sharply divided over how to proceed.
House Republicans are calling for a series of votes designed to embarrass Democrats by forcing them to ratify Obama’s big-business-friendly implementation of the Affordable Care Act. A first vote on a stand alone bill, scheduled for next week, would essentially legalize what Obama did July 5, by delaying implementation of the employer mandate for one year.
Republicans are planning to then hold a second vote that would formally delay the law’s individual mandate as well. “If big business is to get off free from #Obamacare’s mandate, then so should you and your family,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., tweeted Wednesday.
But Senate Republicans aren’t buying into that game plan. “Delaying only one aspect of this tangled mess leaves Americans holding the tab for an irreparably broken law they do not support,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Thursday.
Instead of stand alone legislation that the Senate would never pass and Obama would never sign anyway, Senate Republicans want to use the Obama delays as a lever to defund all of Obamacare when Congress must pass new funding legislation to keep all of the federal government open this fall.
“If congressional Democrats want to oppose appropriations bills without additional Obamacare funding, shut down the government, and side with the president and Big Business against the American people, then it’s their choice,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, told the Washington Examiner.
But that level of brinkmanship may not be acceptable to House Republican leaders. As lawless as the Obamacare delays are, it is unlikely most Americans think they are worth shutting down the entire government over.
A third option may be to tie funding for the centerpiece of Obamacare’s implementation, the health insurance exchange subsidies, to the full implementation of the law’s income verification requirements.
Republicans could let the rest of the government and Obamacare implementation funding go through, but deny all authority for Obama to issue health insurance subsidies until an effective income verification system was set up.
The Washington Examiner‘s Phil Klein has already identified a ready made slogan for this option: “No subsidization without verification.”
This “no subsidization without verification” option has not been voiced by members of either chamber … yet. But a House leadership aide tells the Examiner, “I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see legislation come down the pipe that requires a stronger verification system set up before subsidies are handed out.”