House votes to defund health care law in bill to finance the government

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House of Representatives on Friday approved a contentious $986 billion short-term measure to keep the federal government running through mid-December and to defund the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s legacy accomplishment.

A victory for conservative House Republicans against some party elders, the 230-189 vote on a temporary continuing resolution to fund the government, while stripping health care law funding and retaining the automatic domestic and military cuts known as sequestration in place, is the first move in a complicated political chess match that could lead to lead to a government shutdown Oct. 1.

“The House has listened to the American people,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “Now it’s time for the United States Senate to listen to them as well.”

Two Democrats — Reps. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Jim Matheson of Utah — crossed party lines and voted for the bill. One Republican, Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia, voted against it.

The House measure now goes to the Senate where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., proclaimed it “dead, dead, dead” on Thursday. Senate Democrats vowed to restore so-called Obamacare funding and ship the measure to the House.

“Republicans are simply postponing for a few days the inevitable choice they must face: pass a clean bill to fund the government, or force a shutdown,” Reid said following the House vote. “Republicans here in Washington are using these stunts to raise money and grab headlines, but these are not just games to middle-class families in Nevada and across the country who now face the very real risk of a government shutdown.”

Senate Republicans, led by Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, vowed to fight for the House measure, even though they expressed little hope for Senate passage earlier in the week. Cruz said Thursday, “I will do everything and anything possible to defund Obamacare,” including a filibuster on the Senate floor.

The House bill has exposed fissures within the Republican Party on the strategy for tackling the new health care law. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the Senate “will not repeal, or defund, Obamacare.”

“We will not,” McCain said Thursday on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” “And to think we can is not rational.”