The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved an budget measure that would strip all funding from the Affordable Care Act -- also known as Obamacare -- or shut down the federal government. According to Talking Points Memo, the bill passed with a 230 to 189 vote along party lines save one Republican who voted against the bill and two Democrats who voted in favor of it.
"Let's defund this law now and protect the American people from the economic calamity that we know Obamacare will create," said House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) in a speech on the House floor. "We should pass this continuing resolution so the Senate can finally begin to do the same."
The measure will now go before the Democrat-led Senate, where it is expected to generate a fierce clash between the parties before getting voted down. Failure to ratify the measure before Sep. 30 will result in the first government shutdown since then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) shut down the federal government in 1996, a move that generated a tremendous anti-GOP backlash which Pres. Bill Clinton (D) rode into a second term in office.
One House Democrat, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) protested before the vote, "I invite my colleagues wake up from this radical, ideological wet dream."
Even if the bill were to be approved by the Senate, which is highly unlikely, the White House has pledged to veto it. The shutdown is slated to go into effect in 10 days.
Senate Democrats can avoid a shut down if they can round up 60 votes to strip the anti-Obamacare language from the bill, but that would require some Republican Senators to cross party lines, a risky decision in today's hyper-partisan environment.
Hard right Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) are spoiling for a bruising battle with their Senate colleagues. Cruz has spent the last several weeks deriding the House GOP caucus for being slow to draft the legislation that was voted on Friday.
"This is the most important fight in the country," said Cruz on Thursday.
[image of house Republicans via the Republican Conference's Flickr photostream]