Lawmakers Work Behind the Scenes on Budget Deal Strategy

September 27, 2013
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Democrats and Republicans have yet to reach a budget agreement

Democrats and Republicans have yet to reach a budget agreement

WASHINGTON – If U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton knows what the Republican strategy is to keep the lights on at federal buildings starting Tuesday, he isn’t telling.  The Cortez Republican declined to state his position on a Senate budget bill that would include funding for the new health care law, known as Obamacare.

“We don’t know what the Senate is going to send back to us. Do you know?,” Tipton asked off the House floor Thursday.

A Senate bill with funding for the Affordable Care Act would trigger a response from House Republicans that has gained widespread acceptance from the 230 members of the caucus, Tipton suggested.

“You know, it will depend on the strategy we’ve developed from the debt ceiling (debate),” Tipton said.

Tipton’s tight-lipped response was similar to those of a half dozen Republican lawmakers and aides who support GOP leadership.

A day after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) ended a 21-hour talk on the Senate floor, few would divulge details of House Republicans’ counter-offer to avert a shutdown of the federal government, which would begin Oct. 1 if the House and Senate cannot reach a deal on a continuing budget resolution for the 2014 fiscal year.

President Obama and leaders of the Democratic-controlled Senate insist they would not compromise with Republicans on a continuing resolution that does not include funding for the President’s health-care law.

Some Senate Republicans, including Orrin Hatch of Utah and Richard Burr of North Carolina, have warned Republicans not to vote for a continuing resolution that would result in a government shutdown.

The Senate is expected to vote Friday or Saturday on a cloture bill that would prevent a filibuster of the continuing resolution.

A recent Rasmussen poll showed that 51 percent would support a partial shutdown of the federal government “until Democrats and Republicans agree on what spending for the health care law to cut.”  Others surveys have indicated that while voters oppose Obamacare, they don’t hate it enough to support a government shutdown.

One Republican who shrugged his shoulders at the polls and talked with reporters freely Thursday opposes Republican leadership.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas), who did not vote for Rep. John Boehner to keep his job as House Speaker in January, said the shutdown of the federal government in 1995 and 1996 did not hurt House Republicans in the 1996 elections. He noted that Republicans lost more seats in the 2012 election than in 1996.

There were signs Huelskamp and Cruz have made progress in their effort to defund Obamacare. The Washington, D.C. and Colorado offices of Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) received more than a hundred phone calls to support Cruz’s call to oppose funding for the health care law, according to spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen.

While most Republicans remain tight-lipped about their strategy, some details have been leaked in recent days. Rep. Lamborn said a repeal of the medical devices tax should be included.

According to Politico, House Republicans have proposed several items on conservatives’ wish list that would entice them to vote for a continuing resolution that includes funding for Obamacare. Members of the caucus met at a room under the Capitol Thursday morning to develop a strategy to pass a budget that would avert a government shutdown

Tipton hinted that lawmakers would find a way to avert a government shutdown and get a budget deal.

“It’s something we’ve got to deal with. We would have liked to done this in July or August, but Obama hasn’t met with us,” Tipton said.

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