House Republicans Vote To Defund Federal Health Overhaul
After a free-wheeling, week-long debate, the House early Saturday morning passed a bill to fund the government through the end of September. It included several amendments to defund the new health law. The bill now goes to the Senate.
The Associated Press: House Votes To Block Funds For Health Overhaul Law
The House has voted to block money to implement President Barack Obama's health care law, a victory for Republicans trying to derail the program. Lawmakers voted to deny the money by a near party-line vote of 239-187 (2/18).
The Wall Street Journal: House GOP Pushes to Derail Health Law
[The House voted] to approve an amendment by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R., Mont.) that blocks the Obama administration from spending to carry out the overhaul. The provision was added to a bill funding the federal government through the remaining months of fiscal 2011. ... Democrats said the Republican plan would reduce health-care options for Americans, increase the federal deficit and make it more difficult to pass a budget this year. ... Once House lawmakers complete the budget bill, the Senate must still take up the bill or pass its own version of spending legislation. The Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to agree to bar the federal government from spending money to implement the health law. Congress must pass some form of spending bill by midnight March 4 (Zibel and Kendall, 2/18).
Los Angeles Times: GOP-Led House Approves Battery Of Pending Cuts
(House Minority Leader Nancy) Pelosi delivered a lengthy defense of the legislation she led to passage in the last session of Congress. "This is, yet again, another example of our friends standing up for the insurance companies at the expense of the American people, standing up for the insurance companies at the expense of the health and well-being of our country," Pelosi said. The healthcare votes came as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said in an updated assessment that repealing the healthcare law would actually drive up federal deficits by $210 billion by 2021 and leave 22 million more Americans without health insurance. (Mascaro and Hennessey, 2/19).
Politico Pro: House Pulls Plug On Health Funding
[The House] also gave unexpected victories to Steve King of Iowa, approving broader measures to deny any implementation funds in the continuing resolution and block salaries to enforce the entire law. And it approved another measure by Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri to block funding for the Internal Revenue Service to enforce the individual mandate the wildly unpopular requirement for everyone to get health coverage starting in 2014. None of the measures completely "defund" the health care law, because large sums of money are out of the reach of the spending bill (Nather, 2/18).
The New York Times: House Votes to Cut $60 Billion, Setting Up Budget Clash
For Republican freshmen, however, there was a potentially sobering lesson about American democracy to be learned from the health care law that they hate so much: after countless hours of drafting and floor debate, the health care bill that Mr. Obama signed last year was the one written and approved by the Senate. In much the same way, the spending measure being debated so feverishly on the House floor has virtually no chance of being enacted into law, no matter how big a victory celebration Republicans hold. Just as the Senate ultimately controlled the health care debate, so too will it control crucial negotiations in the current spending fight. Senate Republicans have said they support the overall goals of their House counterparts but have not committed to making identical cuts, and Democrats have a majority in the chamber (Herszenhorn, 2/19).
The House also slashed funding for family planning and reproductive health services. See KHN news summary.
Earlier coverage of budget issues:
The New York Times: In Budget Fight, House G.O.P. Meets Limits of Its Power
As the House neared approval Friday of the largest round of spending cuts in recent history, the floor debate turned to an amendment proposed by Representative Denny Rehberg, Republican of Montana, to prohibit the use of any federal dollars to implement the Democrats' big new health care law. But for House Republicans flush with enthusiasm after three days and nights of free-wheeling floor debate over their plans to slash spending, there is a potentially sobering lesson ... the spending measure being debated so feverishly on the House floor has no real chance of being enacted into law, no matter how big a victory celebration Republicans plan to hold after the vote expected later on Friday or perhaps Saturday (Herszenhorn, 2/18).
The Washington Post: House Republicans Begin Efforts To Defund Health-Care Overhaul
Republicans launched this week the first of what they vow will be a series of attempts to use their control of the House of Representatives to defund the health-care overhaul law (Aizenman, 2/18).
The Hill: Sen. Conrad Worries Democrats By Calling To Revisit The Healthcare Debate
Unshackled by the need to get reelected, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) suggested Thursday that Democrats reopen the bitter healthcare debate, arguing that the reform law's provisions could yield opportunities to cut the federal deficit. But several Democratic colleagues rejected the idea - it did them enough damage in the last election cycle - over worries that those facing re-election in 2012 could be faced with a storm of negative political ads (Bolton, 2/17).
The Washington Post: Bipartisan 'Gang of Six' In Senate Developing Framework For Deficit Reduction
With President Obama calling for bipartisan talks to tackle the nation's budget problems, a group of influential senators from both parties is developing a framework that calls for higher taxes and limits on all categories of government spending. ... The group hopes to advance the commission's recommendations, which would reduce deficits by $4 trillion over the next decade. Doing so would require lawmakers to embrace some politically perilous policies, however, including raising the retirement age to 69, charging wealthy seniors more for Medicare and ending some cherished but expensive tax breaks (Montgomery, 2/18).
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.