Boehner Dodges Question of Whether House Majority Will Defund ObamaCare if Democrats Are Willing to Shutdown Government Over It

February 10, 2011 - 2:56 PM

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

Washington (CNSNews.com) – House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday did not directly answer a question about whether the GOP-majority House of Representatives would go ahead and defund ObamaCare in this fiscal year if the Democrats in the Senate and President Barack Obama are willing to shutdown the government over the issue by refusing to approve a continuing resolution that denies funding for the health-care law.

The continuing resolution Congress enacted at the end of last year will expire on March 4. After that, the Executive Branch cannot spend any more money unless it is authorized by an appropriation approved by Congress.

A key question is whether the funding bill Congress enacts to keep the government going past March 4 will or will not appropriate money to implement Obamacare. Earlier this week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the version of the bill approved by the House, at least, will not fund Obamacare.

At a Thursday press conference on Capitol Hill, CNSNews.com asked Speaker Boehner the following question:

“Majority Leader Cantor says that the continuing resolution that comes out of the House will not fund ObamaCare. In order for that to pass, the Senate and the president will have to agree to defund the program.  If they don’t, either the GOP will have to cave in and fund ObamaCare or the government will shut down. So, given that fact, is there any way that the House majority led by you will fund ObamaCare after March 4th?

Boehner said,  “We are opposed to Obamacare.  We have voted to repeal it.  That also included $700 million in tax hikes, about $2.6 trillion in new spending. We’re going to continue to take all the actions that we can to make sure that we do not ruin the best health care delivery system in the world, bankrupt our nation and, most importantly, get in the way of job creation in America."

Because Congressional Democrats declined to pass a budget for fiscal year 2011, which began in October 2010 when Democrats controlled Congress, the government has been running on a series of continuing resolutions, with the current one expiring on March 4.

A continuing resolution, or CR, is a type of appropriations bill that allows the government to continue functioning without having Congress decide how much money to give to each individual federal program or agency.

A CR typically continues to fund the various federal departments at the levels they enjoyed the previous fiscal year. Because there is no constitutional requirement to pass a budget, Congress is free to appropriate money in this way.

If the Senate does not pass the CR, which will likely pass in the House and presumably will not include funding for the health care law, or President Obama refuses to sign the CR, then it goes back to the House. If the House doesn't change the CR, then the government could potentially shut down until a compromise is reached.

The last time the government was shut down was in 1995 after President Bill Clinton refused to sign a continuing resolution that would have prevented increases in entitlement spending.