But it would set the stage for an even more nerve-racking deadline on Oct. 17, with conservatives using the threat of the nation’s first default on its debt to force the president to accept a one-year delay of the health-care law’s mandates, taxes and benefits.
President Obama warned Thursday that he will not accept delays to the program’s taxes, mandates and benefits. He said Republicans “have just spun themselves up over this issue.”
“The closer we’ve gotten to this date, the more irresponsible people opposed to this law have become,” Obama said at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Md., referring to the Oct. 1 start of enrollment in the program’s new health-insurance plans.
“The Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” Obama said, stressing that he would not negotiate delays or other changes to the law as part of budget talks or the debt-ceiling process.
Thursday morning, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) refused to outline what Republicans would attach to the spending bill, formally known as a continuing resolution, when it arrives from the Senate.
“We’re not going to have a discussion about the CR — speculate about the CR — until the Senate sends us their bill,” he told reporters.
Two hours after Boehner’s announcement, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said the Senate would not accept another House-passed funding resolution with different legislative strings attached to it.
“They keep digging, deeper and deeper,” Reid told reporters as a countdown clock ticked away the days, hours, minutes and seconds to Monday night’s shutdown deadline.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, rejected any proposal to rein in Obamacare in either the government funding bill or the debt ceiling. “You can huff, you can puff for 21 hours, but you cannot blow the Affordable Care Act away,” she said, referring to a filibuster-like anti-Obamacare speech by conservative Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) that began Tuesday afternoon and ended Wednesday.
At their weekly closed-door meeting with rank-and-file Republicans, Boehner and his lieutenants outlined the plan to raise the debt limit. If it wins approval, the leaders hope to introduce the debt-limit bill later Thursday and hold a vote as soon as Saturday — letting GOP lawmakers mount a fresh assault on the health-care law before deciding whether to shut down the government.
The debt-limit bill will be loaded with dozens of other conservative priorities, including the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.