GOP expected to use spending bill to influence health policy

(Bloomberg)—House Republican leaders are discussing using Friday’s deadline for a must-pass government funding plan to force the Senate to accept a bill without measures to stabilize Obamacare insurance markets that are drawing objections from conservatives, according to a Republican aide.

The House version of the spending bill is also said to include provisions that would continue some of the funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which supports health insurance subsidies for 9 million children. Federal funding for CHIP expired on September 30.

In the scenario under discussion, House Republicans would pass their temporary spending measure, with full-year funding for defense and money for everything else through January 19, on a party-line vote. This would depend on Republicans standing together to pass their bill, thereby removing any leverage for Democrats.

Congress-CROP.jpg
President Barack Obama delivers a health care address to a joint session of Congress at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

The bill would be sent to the Senate, which is expected to strip out the long-term defense spending and add two health insurance measures to get support from Democrats—and fulfill a promise to GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine for her vote on the tax overhaul.

From this point, the House could agree to pass the Senate bill. Instead, House leaders may decide to amend the Senate bill to remove the health provisions, pass it again with just Republican support, and return it the Senate for another vote, said a senior GOP aide who asked not to be identified when discussing private strategy.

All of this must happen before Saturday, or lawmakers will need another stopgap measure—even just for a few days—that would force them to return to Washington after the Christmas holiday.

The current House bill includes the full defense appropriations bill for 2018, short-term funding until January 19 for all other government functions, a House version of an insurance program for children, a health bill for veterans and $81 billion in supplemental funds for disaster relief.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.