House Republican leaders are moving forward with a bill that would extend government funding until mid-December, averting a government shutdown but forcing the Democratically-controlled Senate into a vote on defunding the 2010 health care reform law.
Aides say that GOP leaders are currently assessing Republican support for the plan. If leadership finds they have the support to pass the bill with just Republican votes, they could vote as early as Thursday.
Government funding is currently scheduled to expire on September 30th if Congress fails to act.
The House proposal would use a legislative tool to pass a “Continuing Resolution” with a bill attached to it to defund the Affordable Care Act. The “Continuing Resolution” would temporarily continue federal funding at current levels set after the budget cuts known as sequestration, thus averting a complete shutdown of the government.
But if that package passed the House -- which would require almost exclusively Republican votes – then the Senate would be forced to take up both the government funding measure and the bill to scrap the Obama health law.
The Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, has ignored dozens of past legislative attempts by the GOP-led House to gut ‘Obamacare,’ which is set to begin a major new phase of implementation next month.
Still, House Republicans are already facing resistance to the proposal.
Conservative group Club for Growth has sent a letter to members of Congress asking them to oppose the plan.
“Rather than fight to defund ObamaCare, or to even have an honest debate about it, House leaders have decided to go with a "smoke and mirrors" strategy that avoids the issue,” the group wrote. “Therefore, we urge lawmakers to oppose the rule.”
Heritage Action, another conservative organization, called the House proposal "a gimmick."
"The American people are tired of gimmicks, and it is our expectation that no conservative in Congress will try to deceive their constituents by going along with this cynical ploy," the group's CEO, Michael Needham, said in a statement.
House and Senate leaders from both parties are expected to meet Thursday to discuss legislation to keep the government's lights on, two aides tell NBC News.
Carrie Dann contributed.
First published September 10 2013, 1:31 PM