House GOP leaders decided Wednesday to delay until next week a contentious vote on keeping government funding going, senior Republicans said.
Rank-and-file Republicans had not fully endorsed their leadership's complicated plan to keep federal agencies operating at current austerity levels while forcing a Senate vote on whether to defund President Obama's health-care initiative. Under that plan, the Democratic-led Senate would likely dismiss the Obamacare rider and keep the government running, a scenario that outside conservative groups have lambasted in the last 24 hours.
But House conservatives said Wednesday that they might be willing to go along with the proposal if GOP leaders can craft a longer-term plan to fight next month's showdown on raising the federal debt ceiling.
Leaving the conservative caucus's weekly meeting, several House Republicans said that the plan would be to wage the health-care fight on higher ground over the debt ceiling They would negotiate for a one-year delay in Obamacare and give Democrats a higher funding level for federal agencies, eliminating for one year the so-called sequestration caps. This proposal would also give the White House an increase in the nation's borrowing limit for some time.
"Maybe this thing could work," said Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), a senior member of the Republican Study Committee.
Regardless, conservatives have demanded more time to consider their options, which prompted the leadership's delay of the stopgap government funding bill until next week. Congress must act by Sept 30, when the 2013 fiscal year ends, to avoid a partial government shutdown.