The House of Representatives began debate Thursday on measures that would fund the government after Sept. 30, giving an official form to the war over a government shutdown.
The spending measure, however, is paired with one that would repeal Obamacare. There is very little chance that anti-health care reform senators could muster enough votes in the Democratic-controlled Senate to defund Obamacare, so the House opposition is largely ceremonial.
Even if Republicans do find the votes, President Obama has promised to veto any bill that cuts funding for Obamacare.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the leading rhetorical bomb-thrower in the Affordable Care Act fight, concedes that defunding the ACA has little chance in the Senate, so it will be up to the Republican-controlled House to make the last stand.
Over the summer, Cruz and the conservative Heritage Foundation staged a nationwide series of anti-Obamacare rallies. His backtrack has attracted understandable criticism from House members. The House has voted 41 times to defund Obamacare, while Cruz’s fight has been limited to rallies, Tweets and Facebook posts, which have given him a measure of Republican celebrity, but have contributed nothing to the legislative process.
Nebraska’s delegation is divided by the issues.
Sen. Deb Fischer — Supports the strategy to tie Obamacare to continued funding of the government. Fischer told Nebraska Radio Network on Thursday that she doesn’t want a government shutdown, but that it might be the only way to force her colleagues in Washington to begin to take seriously the issue of spending and debt. nebraskaradionetwork.com
Sen. Mike Johanns — Has opposed Obamacare, but also described efforts to tie Obamacare to a government shutdown as “not a realistic plan.”The senior senator from Nebraska also noted that the ruckus being raised by Sens. Cruz, Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky was good for the trio’s presidential aspirations but would not be good for the country.
Rep. Lee Terry (1st District) — Supports the Republican strategy. “Obamacare is worthy of throwing yourself on the sword,” he told U.S. News & World Reports. usnews.com
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (2nd District) — Told an August town hall that he would oppose measures that would lead to a government shutdown and noted that President Obama would never sign any legislation that defunded the ACA. Fortenberry also said he would like to avoid another round of indiscriminate, across-the-board sequester budget cuts.
Rep. Adrian Smith (3rd District) — His official web site shows past support for killing Obamacare and a desire for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, but does not address the current situation on either topic. There were no related returns on a Google search.