Policy

Republican Leaders Eye Debt Limit as Obamacare Leverage

House Republican leaders are considering using the fall debt ceiling fight as leverage to push for a delay in Obamacare, but they haven't yet decided whether to pursue that strategy, a leadership aide told CQ Roll Call.

"Obamacare is one of many things we can pursue on debt limit, potentially the individual mandate delay and codifying the business delay, and perhaps other aspects," a GOP leadership aide told CQ Roll Call on Thursday. "This is all in the discussion phase right now."

The possible twist comes as leadership faces an insurgent effort to threaten a government shutdown over Obamacare from the rank and file and fueled by outside groups. Reuters reported leaders were considering the idea earlier Thursday.

Later on Thursday, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., is expected to circulate a letter addressed to party leaders calling for the inclusion of language defunding Obamacare in any must-pass spending bill at the end of next month.

The text of the letter isn't likely to yield much of a surprise, but its release will reveal how many House GOP lawmakers co-signed the correspondence after Heritage Action for America unfurled an ad campaign against 100 members who were still holding out as of earlier this week.

The GOP Conference is largely divided on whether threatening a government shutdown is politically advisable given that the Senate and the White House would certainly snub any serious effort to unravel the Democrats' signature health care legislation.

It's also highly unlikely Democrats would be amenable to discussing dismantling Obamacare in connection with raising the debt ceiling later this fall when the government is set to default, as the Obama administration has said repeatedly that it will not negotiate on the full faith and credit of the United States.

A failure to raise the debt ceiling would also provoke a partial government shutdown, as the government would be unable to pay all of its bills. Obama warned in 2011 that Social Security and other checks could be delayed.

House Republican leaders will hold a conference call this evening with conference members where this will surely be a topic of conversation.