Senate Republicans leave town Friday for their August recess, but they exit prepared to spend much of the next month criticizing President Obama’s healthcare law — even though they don’t agree among themselves whether repeal of the law or just a delay is more politically tenable.
This week, that disagreement came into sharp focus when a small group of Republican senators, led by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, demanded that the full repeal of “Obamacare” be linked to a spending bill needed to keep the government open after the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year. If the bill doesn’t pass, the government will shut down.
The Senate Republican conference’s trifold recess messaging brochure, a copy of which was provided to the Washington Examiner by a Senate Republican aide, doesn’t take sides in that debate. Instead, it simply suggests that lawmakers “permanently delay Obamacare for ALL Americans,” with no mention of the spending bill or the word “repeal.”
It’s a vague prescription that likely won’t offend Lee or GOP opponents of his proposal — and there were many, including Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who published a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service showing that shutting down the government would not halt the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not taken a definitive stand on Lee’s proposal, but he has been under immense pressure from conservatives and outside groups, such as the Club for Growth, to sign on to it. Sens. Marco Rubio, of Florida, and Ted Cruz, of Texas, were the most vocal supporters of Lee’s idea.