On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on and passed a measure that would provide funding for the federal government through December, but only on the condition that the Affordable Care Act (or, Obamacare) is defunded. As expected, the vote fell pretty much along party lines, with Republicans for and Democrats against.
This attempt by the GOP to defund Obamacare is hugely significant. The federal government is expected to exceed its spending limit on October 1, and the funding part of the measure passed on Friday is critical to “keep the lights on.” If no funding measure is passed, the government will be unable to pay its bills, and will be forced to shut down all non-essential operations.
“We had a victory today for the American people,” said Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) at an event after the bill was passed on Friday. “And frankly we also had a victory for common sense.”
While surveys show that Boehner’s constituents certainly do not favor Obamacare, it’s less clear that they agree that trying to defund the measure at the risk of shutting down the government constitutes common sense.
From here, the bill will go to the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. There, a measure to fund Obamacare is likely to be tacked back on, and the whole thing will get sent back to the House.
What’s more, the White House has already said that President Barack Obama would exercise his veto right on any measure that that defunded his healthcare plan. In short — this road seems to only lead to one place.
In a slightly ironic twist, a government shut down may not actually be enough to stop Obamacare. A July memorandum from the Congressional Research Office addressed to Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) digs into the subject, finding that the government may very well be able to find non-discretionary implementation funding for Obamacare despite a shutdown.
Gallup reports that 52 percent of Americans now disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, up from 45 percent a year ago, while 44 percent believe that the act will actually make the healthcare situation worse in the U.S.