Will Boehner Fight Or Fold On Obamacare Funding?

Craig Bannister
By Craig Bannister | July 24, 2012 | 9:31 AM EDT

UPDATE: Today (7/24/12) asked House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), “In whatever legislation funds the government after Sept. 30, will House Republicans permit funding for the Affordable Care Act?”

Boehner replied:

“I expect we’ll have an agreement with the Senate on a CR [Continuing Resolution].  As you all know, CR’s do contain some changes but usually not many changes.  And considering that we’ve been fighting—the House has voted now 33 times to defund, to repeal and change Obamacare.  Actually, about seven or eight of those votes have become laws, so there have been changes.

“But, our goal would be to make sure the government is funded and any political talk of a government shutdown is put to rest.” (See video below.)

Not exactly a "yes" or "no" answer from Boehner - but, if he's not willing to block a vote any funding bill unless it excludes Obamacare funding (and risk a government shutdown), then his latest answer seems clear.

Previously, I asked Rep. Boehner’s office if the House speaker will use his power to block any bill funding Obamacare from coming up for a vote now that 127 of his colleagues have called on him to do so.

I tried to get a simple “yes” or “no” answer about Obamacare from House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office. Here’s what happened.

Last week, 127 House Republicans, led by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), wrote to Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) urging them not to advance any legislation that provides or allows funds to implement ObamaCare.

By September 30, either a budget or another continuing resolution will need to be passed and signed in order to keep the federal government in business.

But, no bill (and, thus, no Obamacare-funding bill) can come to the House floor for a vote without Speaker Boehner’s consent.

So, I followed up with the Speaker’s spokesman, Michael Steel, to find out if Rep. Boehner will, indeed, prevent any funding bill that provides funding for Obamacare from coming up for a vote in the House.

On July 19, I sent this e-mail:

“Dear Michael: Now that the letter urging defunding of Obamacare has been signed by 127 House Republicans and delivered via both e-mail and inter-office mail, I would like to include Speaker Boehner's response to it in the story I'm writing.


1.    What is his response to the letter?

2.    Will he join his colleagues and pursue defunding? Why or why not?

3.    What circumstances, if any, would it take to convince him to agree to join his colleagues and pursue defunding?

4.    Is there anything else Speaker Boehner would like us to report about this?”

Later that morning, Steel sent me this response:

“The House has voted to repeal, partially repeal or defund the health care law more than 30 times – and we’ll keep at it until we get rid of it.”

Confused by his response, I tried to be more specific in my next e-mail to Steel. This time, I quoted directly from the letter Boehner’s 127 colleagues had sent to him.

I also asked Steel for simple “yes” or “no” answers:

“Does your response mean that Speaker Boehner agrees with the 127 signatories and that he will not allow to be brought ‘to the House floor in the 112th Congress any legislation that provides or allows funds to implement ObamaCare through the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Health and Human Services, or any other federal entity’?

“Also, will Speaker Boehner, as the letter states, ‘take legislative steps necessary to immediately rescind all ObamaCare-implementation funds’?

“I would greatly appreciate a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to these two questions.”

Here’s Steel’s reply:

“The House has voted to repeal, partially repeal or defund the health care law more than 30 times – and we’ll keep at it until we get rid of it.”

Since this response is identical to his first response – and contains neither a “yes” nor a “no” – I’m still unclear about Rep. Boehner’s intentions.

What does this mean?

Will he, or will he not, use his power as House speaker to prevent any bill funding Obamacare from coming up for a vote?

By October 1, we will have our answer.

See more "Right Views, Right Now" opinion and analysis.

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