King-Bachmann Pledge: Vote ‘No’ on Any CR That Permits Obamacare Funding

March 13, 2011 - 10:52 PM

Rep. Steve King

Rep. Steve King (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

(CNSNews.com) - U.S. Representatives Steve King (R.-Iowa) and Michele Bachmann (R.-Minn.), two of the leading congressional proponents of the Tea Party movement, have taken a pledge and are asking all other House members to join them in it.

Its terms are simple: The member vows to vote “no” on any continuing resolution that permits any funding for the implementation of Obamacare.

King and Bachmann sent a letter on Thursday to House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R.-Ky.) asking them to include language completely defunding Obamacare in any new continuing resolution (CR).

At the same time, King and Bachmann released a statement asking their House colleagues to join them in signing the letter and in pledging to vote against any CR that allows the Obama administration to spend any money to implement any part of Obamacare.

“I have written a letter and signed it, and Michele Bachmann has signed it, that takes the pledge—it’s actually a pledge,” King told CNSNews.com. “It’s posted on her website and on mine, and our Facebooks, asking members to go to that site and sign the letter that says they will vote no on any CR that doesn’t cut off the automatic spending and all the funding to Obamacare.”

"All members of Congress are encouraged to contact my office to join us in the effort to prevent taxpayers’ money from going to the implementation of this unconstitutional program," Bachmann said in a statement posted on her website on Friday.

On Friday, the House Republican leadership introduced a new short-term CR that does not include the language King and Bachmann are seeking. In fact, the Republican leadership’s CR would not defund any part of Obamacare. (This new CR would take effect when the current CR expires on March 18 and would keep the government funded for only an additional three weeks beyond that date.)

An initial CR to fund the entire federal government for the rest of fiscal 2011 (which ends on Sept. 30) passed the House in February but failed to win approval in the Senate. It included a series of amendments prohibiting annual appropriations money from being used to fund Obamacare. But the Democratic majority that enacted Obamacare last year wrote the law in such a way that $105.5 billion in funding over 10 years was put on autopilot. The Obama administration can go ahead and spend that $105.5 billion unless or until Congress expressly prohibits it from doing so.

King and Bachmann are asking Boehner and Cantor to insert language in any new CR to do exactly that.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R.-Minn.)

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. (Associated Press/Cliff Owen)

“Consequently,” King and Bachmann wrote the leaders, “we ask that the following language, or more effective language, be added to the FY 2011 CR to cut off both the annual and automatic appropriations for Obamacare’s implementation: ‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law, none of the funds made available by this or any previous Act with respect to any fiscal year may be used to carry out the provision of Public Law 111-148 and Public Law 111-152, or any amendment made by either such Public Law.” (The two public laws cited here-- Public Law 111-148 and Public Law 111-152--are the Obamacare act itself and the reconciliation act passed along with it to carry the amendments House Democrats wanted incorporated into the Senate version of the bill.)

“We have to write my language into the CR and take a stand,” King told CNSNews.com. “Stare the president in the eye and say: Mr. President, we are going to make sure that this government has the resources to function, but we’re also are going to make sure that there are no resources to implement or carry out the provisions of Obamacare, and if you should choose to shutdown the government in order to preserve socialized medicine that has your name on it, that is your choice not ours, but we are not going to allow that unconstitutional bill to be enacted on deceptive funding on our watch.”

When asked whether Boehner or Cantor had made any indication that they would include language to completely defund Obamacare in any future CR, King said they had not.

“I would think I would know if they are committed,” said King. “I think they would call me up right away and say: Would you just plain take it easy. We will put your language in. I have haven’t heard that yet. … And I don’t see any inclination that they will do that. And I am going to continue my discussions with them in hopes that they will.”

At King's request the Congressional Research Service (CRS) produced a report, published Feb. 11, that itemized all the provisions in the Obamacare legislation that authorize automatic spending that Congress does not have to appropriate in each future year. The CRS report lists each of these items and provides their price tag. The total cost of these automatic spending provisions, the CRS determined, is approximately $105.5 billion over 10 years.

Of this $105.5 billion in automatic Obamacare spending, $4.95 billion will take place in this fiscal year.

King and Bachmann argue that if the Republican majority in the House does not use the must-pass continuing resolution to terminate this $105.5 billion in automatic Obamacare funding—and thus terminate implementation of Obamacare—they will not have a better opportunity in the next two years to actually defund Obamacare and stop it from being implemented.

“While some have argued that our defunding efforts in the CR should be limited only to those annual funds provided by the CR, we disagree,” King and Bachmann wrote to the Republican leaders. “If we do not stand our ground on the CR, leverage it as the ‘must pass bill’ that it is, and use it to stop the $105.5 billion in automatically appropriated funds, Obamacare will be implemented on our watch. We will also have conceded a significant amount of ground on this issue and will find it difficult, if not impossible, to regain the strategic advantage in future legislative vehicles.”

King said that he and Bachmann were leaving it up to individual members who take the pledge to decide whether or not they would publicly declare that they had done so.

"We have decided to present it this way: If members want to sign it, but they don’t want their name released because of repercussions, then we’ll keep their name confidential and if they would like to let the American people know that they have signed the letter they can issue their press release to say so," said King. "That way we can get the maximum number of support for this. But, you know, when the vote goes up on the board if we don’t get the language in the bill, we’ll know who signed it."