News

Republicans ignore Obama’s veto threat on spending bill

Republicans ignore Obama’s veto threat on spending bill

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, talks to reporters about the deadline to fund the government and the fight among House Republicans, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. House Republicans vowed Wednesday to pass legislation that would prevent a partial government shutdown and avoid a default while simultaneously canceling out President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, inaugurating a new round of political brinkmanship as critical deadlines approach. Photo: Reuters/AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans in the House of Representatives on Thursday plowed ahead with a bill to gut President Barack Obama’s healthcare law while temporarily funding other government programs, ignoring a warning from the White House that the measure would be vetoed.

The bill, which would keep the government running through December 15 and avert shutdowns with the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, faced its first test vote in the House on Thursday with passage of the measure expected on Friday.

“We’ll deliver a big victory in the House tomorrow,” a confident House Speaker John Boehner told reporters.

The administration wasted no time in formally announcing that it would not allow rebellious House Republicans to destroy the “Obamacare” healthcare law by denying funds.

In a terse statement, the White House said the House bill would be vetoed “because it advances a narrow ideological agenda that threatens our economy and the interests of the middle class.” The statement went on to say that “millions of hard-working middle class families” would be denied affordable health coverage.

This is the latest round in a series of battles Obama faces with Congress over the next few months in what has become an unending standoff over running Washington’s most basic operations, from the FBI and national parks to education and military programs.

And the December 15 cut-off date for the funding measure guarantees yet another struggle around Christmas time.

Besides the spending bill, Congress and the White House have to either agree in October or early November on a measure to increase U.S. borrowing authority or plunge the nation into a first-ever credit default.

In 2011, as Republicans and Democrats fought over these two same issues, U.S. financial markets swooned because of all the uncertainty created by Washington’s inability to work together.

Between July 7 and August 9 of that year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average blue-chip stocks plummeted 2,150 points, or 16.9 percent.

‘Stealth debt limit’ hike

The Republican bill is expected to attract no Democratic support and even some conservative opposition.

For example, Republican Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky told Reuters that he planned to vote against the measure because “it’s a stealth debt limit increase.”

Massie was referring to a provision of the bill that would instruct the Treasury Department to pay bondholders and Social Security retirement benefits even if Congress fails to increase the government’s $16.7 trillion borrowing cap that will soon be breached.

Assuming the House passes the Republican-backed bill to defund Obamacare and provide temporary government funds, it will be significantly altered by the Democratic Senate next week.

Democrats in that chamber plan to delete the House’s Obamacare provision and send the temporary spending bill back to the House for passage before the September 30 deadline when the current fiscal year ends.

Senate Democrats believe that more than a dozen Republicans in that chamber could back them since they are on record opposing linking Obamacare to keeping the government open. Some of those Republicans have described their House colleagues’ ploy as “foolish,” a “silly effort” and “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.”

If the Senate kills the Obamacare defunding proposal and sends the House a basic temporary spending bill, Boehner and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi will then each face difficult decisions.

Since many House Republicans are expected to vote against final passage of the stripped-down measure, Boehner might have to decide whether to rely on significant Democratic support to win passage, a politically difficult move.

For Pelosi, the question will be whether to throw her weight behind a bill that continues deep, across-the-board spending cuts that Democrats want to end.

Many inside and outside of Congress are guessing that both leaders will hold their noses, keeping in mind that the alternative, an October 1 government shutdown, is not an option.

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

WATCH: 10 best ‘Simpsons’ episodes

In this photo released by Fox, Homer explains why he wants to bring back the annual 4th of July fireworks display, after it's cancelled for budget reasons, in the "Yellow Badge of Cowardge" Season Finale episode of "The Simpsons," in May 2014. The full 25-year run of "The Simpsons" will arrive on cable channel FXX with a summer marathon, to be paired this fall with a digital extravaganza that could turn other TV shows yellow with envy. "I'm not going to over-promise, but I think this website will provide you with affordable health care," longtime "Simpsons" executive producer Al Jean told a TV critics' meeting Monday, July 21, 2014.

The recent marathon of all 552 episodes of "The Simpsons" inspired us to sit down and come up with our 10 favorite episodes. Enjoy!

in Music

Robert Plant urges Jimmy Page to give up Led Zeppelin reunion

2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and members of the band Led Zeppelin, from left, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Robert Plant chat on the red carpet after arriving at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors Performance and Gala Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 at the State Department in Washington.

Robert Plant has urged his former Led Zeppelin bandmate Jimmy Page to end his war of words with the singer and concentrate on recording new music.

in Entertainment

Lena Dunham and Kate Mara hit by a falling sign

Lena Dunham, of HBO's "Girls," arrives at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards held at The Nokia Theatre  in Los Angeles.

The "Girls" and "House of Cards" actresses saw stars of their own after an accident at a Venice premiere.

in Lifestyle

Rice replaces ice in India bucket challenge

An Indian school boy eats a midday meal provided free at a government school in Hyderabad, India, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. India has offered free midday school meals since the 1960s in an effort to persuade poor parents to send their children to school, a program that reaches some 120 million children. The country now plans to subsidize wheat, rice and cereals for some 800 million people under a $20 billion scheme to cut malnutrition and ease poverty.

The famous "ice bucket" challenge is inspiring thousands of Indians to follow suit, but with a twist - they are replacing ice with rice to help the country's hungry people.

in Entertainment

Charges dropped against Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s suspected drug dealer

In this Jan. 19, 2014 photo, Philip Seymour Hoffman poses for a portrait at The GenArt Quaker Good Energy Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah. Hoffman, who won the Oscar for best actor in 2006 for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote in "Capote," was found dead Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in his New York apartment. He was 46.

Drug-selling charges against a friend of late film star Philip Seymour Hoffman have been dropped after officers neglected to read the suspect his Miranda rights.