On Friday, the House voted 235-189 to approve the GOP continuing resolution (HR 1) spending bill -- which would keep the federal government in operation through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year -- that included several Republican-sponsored amendments designed to defund and block further implementation of the federal health reform law, CQ Today reports (Weyl, CQ Today, 2/19).
The amendments were approved mostly along party lines, with each of them garnering at least three votes from Democrats for final approval (Zibel/Kendall, Wall Street Journal, 2/18). The House voted:
- 239-187 to adopt an amendment by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) that would prohibit all payments to "any employee, officer, contractor, or grantee of any department or agency" implementing the federal health reform law;
- 241-187 to pass an amendment by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) that would bar any funding to implement the overhaul through the CR;
- 237-191 to approve another amendment by King that would block salaries to anyone whose job it is to enforce the law; and
- 246-182 to adopt an amendment by Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) that would eliminate funding to the Internal Revenue Service to enforce the law's individual mandate, which is scheduled to be implemented in 2014.
An amendment resembling Emerson's, which had been introduced by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), was rejected on a budget point of order.
The House later approved two additional GOP amendments to the CR that would halt payments for federal work on the law's health insurance exchanges and eliminate funding to enforce the federal medical loss-ratio regulations (Nather, Politico, 2/18).
In addition, lawmakers voted 240-185 to adopt an amendment -- sponsored by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) -- that would prohibit funding under the CR from being directed to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
PPFA is a major recipient of grants through the federal Title X program, which is dedicated to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services (Weyl, CQ Today, 2/18).
Impact and Prospects of CR, Amendments
According to Politico, none of the approved amendments would completely defund the overhaul, because a large portion of overhaul spending comes from outside the spending bill. However, the combination of amendments could elevate the tension over the growing prospect of a government shutdown (Politico, 2/18).
The Senate would have to either pass the House package or pass its own version of spending legislation before March 4, when the current temporary spending legislation expires. If Congress fails to send a spending bill to President Obama before that deadline, the federal government could be forced to shut down (Wall Street Journal, 2/18).
However, the CR and the amendments in their current state are not expected to become law, because the Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to oppose the overhaul defunding measures, and Obama has pledged to veto them (Politico, 2/18).