Washington Update

Members of Congress Attempt to Defund the Affordable Care Act

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Several House Republicans have signed a letter urging Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA) when Congress approves the appropriation bills later this year. According to the letter, signers are “urging Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) to defund the implementation and enforcement of the ACA in any relevant appropriations bill brought to the House floor in the 113th Congress, including any continuing appropriations bill,” referred to as a continuing resolution. Last Congress, a similar letter got 127 signatories. The letter is one of several attempts by House Republicans to defund or fiscally starve the ACA.

In the Senate, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) is circulating a letter that cites the Obama administration’s delay of the employer mandate as justification for blocking further ACA spending. “If Democrats will not agree with Republicans that Obamacare must be repealed, perhaps they can at least agree with the president that the law cannot be implemented as written,” the letter states.

At least a dozen senators have signed the letter. According to several sources, the goal is to get 41 signers in order to send a message to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that he does not have the votes for a continuing resolution. In recent years, Congress has had to pass a series of continuing resolutions that maintain funding for federal programs at existing levels because of breakdowns or delays in the traditional appropriations process.

Separately, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced S.1292 to prohibit funding of the ACA. The measure currently has 27 co-sponsors.

Coincidently, October 1, 2013, is the date the new fiscal year begins and it happens to coincide with ACA’s scheduled start of open enrollment for health coverage on the new state-based health insurance exchanges, or marketplaces.

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