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Conservatives resolute on Obamacare, but Sen. Coburn says strategy won’t work


“I think it’s a great attempt to raise the issue of some of the weaknesses and the problems with Obamacare, but it’s not a tactic that we can actually carry out and be successful,” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Conservatives in Congress said Sunday that they remain committed to linking approval of a stopgap funding bill to the removal of financing for President Obama’s health-care overhaul, but a leading Republican budget hawk in the Senate said the strategy just won’t work.

“I think it’s a great attempt to raise the issue of some of the weaknesses and the problems with Obamacare, but it’s not a tactic that we can actually carry out and be successful,” Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” If Republicans had enough votes in the Senate, Coburn added, he “would be in the fight.”

The Republican-led House approved a measure last week that would provide funding for the government after the current fiscal year ends, on Sept. 30. The bill now moves to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has said no legislation that strips funding for the health-care law will be approved. Without an agreement on the stopgap funding bill, most nonessential federal operations would come to a halt on Oct. 1.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has been a leading proponent of defunding the health-care overhaul, seemed to acknowledge the difficulty he faces.

“The House is the only body where Republicans have the majority, so the House has to lead on this,” Cruz said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And I view my job and Mike Lee’s job as providing as much support, as much air cover as we can for the House to stand up and lead.”

Cruz angered some House Republicans last week when, after House GOP leaders announced that they would vote on the budget bill that defunds Obamacare, Cruz expressed pessimism that he could stop the Senate’s Democratic majority from restoring that funding.

Key lawmakers from both parties said Sunday that they expected Congress to avoid a government shutdown, but a path out of the standoff remained unclear. “We all know that the government is going to be funded. The question is whether it will be funded with Obamacare or without,” Lee said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The next crisis is likely to happen in mid- to late October, when the government is expected to hit the limit of its borrowing authority.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that Obama shouldn’t negotiate over the debt ceiling. “Because the cupboard is bare. There’s no more cuts to make,” Pelosi said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It’s really important that people understand that.”

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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