Updated 4:18 p.m. | House GOP lawmakers rallied Saturday around a leadership plan to amend a stopgap spending bill with a one-year Obamacare delay and other provisions, even though such an action could lead to at least a short government shutdown next week.
If the measure is amended by House later today, the Senate would have only two days to either approve it or amend it and send it back to the House before funding for the government runs out on Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said his chamber will never agree to a continuing resolution that attempts to tear down or delay the 2010 health care law.
The timing of House votes was still unclear, but a Rules Committee meeting to set up the terms for debate was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. With likely hours of debate, votes to amend the CR were not expected to occur until late evening.
Republican members of the House were buoyant after a noon meeting with leadership, even as they admitted there was little to no discussion about what would happen if the Senate sent the bill back, nor what to do in the event of a shutdown.
Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona said everyone in the room was "pretty doggone happy."
"We are 100 percent unified. Everybody's on board because we are doing the right thing for the right reasons based on our promises to our districts and nation to stand our principle," said Rep. John Culberson of Texas.
Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said there were no more than a handful of dissenters.
Cole said he was not aware of any "plan B," should the Senate reject the revamped CR. "There's always a plan, but it's not necessarily one that I know anything about," he said.
Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana also acknowledged there was no discussion of what might come next. "We can't predict what the Senate will do," Fleming said.
Asked if he believed the House's action might lead to a shutdown, Rep. Michael C. Burgess of Texas put the onus on Reid.
"No, I think that ball will be firmly in Harry Reid's court. If he wants to shut it down, that's his business," Burgess said.
Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas also said the Senate would be to blame for any shutdown.
"If Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats would stop being so stubborn and recognize that the president has already delayed the mandate on businesses, delayed the anti-fraud protections, delayed the anti-privacy protections and numerous other provisions of Obamacare, and that's it's not ready to be implemented, then no, of course the government won't shut down," Cotton said.
Cotton is running for Senate against Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor.
Other changes House GOP leaders plan to add to the CR include a repeal of a medical device tax and a change in the expiration date from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15. The House also plans to vote on a separate bill to ensure soldiers would get paid during any shutdown.
In a statement, GOP leaders said:
The American people don’t want a government shut down and they don’t want ObamaCare. That’s why later today, the House will vote on two amendments to the Senate-passed continuing resolution that will keep the government open and stop as much of the president’s health care law as possible.
The first amendment delays the president’s health care law by one year. And the second permanently repeals ObamaCare’s medical device tax that is sending jobs overseas.
Both of these amendments will change the date of the Senate CR to December 15th. We will also vote on a measure that ensures our troops get paid, no matter what.
We will do our job and send this bill over, and then it’s up to the Senate to pass it and stop a government shutdown.