The Washington Mall outside Capitol Hill is being closed to the public with barricades. In the first order of business for the day, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calls a roll-call vote to kill the House proposal to fund the now-shutdown government as long as Obamacare is “defunded.” The House bill is defeated 54 to 46.
The Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama will not “defund” Obamacare. It has been a law for three years. It was found constitutional by the Supreme Court. Many provisions have already been enacted. And the act’s health-insurance exchanges go into effect today. Forty-eight million Americans do not have health insurance.
Republicans believe the law hurts business, and the bill just killed by the Senate also aimed to strip out the Affordable Care Act’s mandatory contraception coverage, which they argue infringes on religious liberty.
Intense debate over the bill– including over its likely effects on business and over the contraception coverage — took place in the months it was being proposed and written in 2010 and 2011. In the end, the bill passed. Republicans ran in national elections against the bill in the years since, proposing to “repeal and replace it.” They have lost the elections that might have given them the power to repeal and replace.
Colorado Democratic US Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall just voted to kill the House budget-funding bill with the “defund Obamacare” poison pill addition.
There are 80 Tea Party hardliners in the House from deep-red districts leading the drive to defund the law passed in 2011. There are 232 House Republicans. There are 203 Democratic members of the House.
All four of the Republican members of Congress from Colorado have voted to shut down the government. Congressmen Doug Lamborn and Cory Gardner are from solidly Republican districts. Congressmen Mike Coffman and Scott Tipton are from toss-up or Republican-leaning districts.
Colorado, with its research labs and military bases, hosts a great number of federal employees. Half of the nation’s Department of Defense personnel have been furloughed today.
It’s unclear to what extent federal emergency relief work teams, including members of the National Guard, will be able to continue working to rebuild Colorado in the wake of the floods that swamped and crumbled vast stretches of the northern foothills and Front Range last month.