The dirty little secret about de-funding Obamacare

Hon. Ernest Istook Former Republican Congressman
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Several members of Congress, like Rep. Denny Rehberg (R – MT) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R – WA), are offering amendments that would prevent any new spending from being used to implement Obamacare.

Good for them. Those are important additions to the big spending bill pending in Congress.

But here’s the dirty little secret: Much of Obamacare is being implemented with money that has already been appropriated. These billions are already available for bureaucrats to put Obamacare into force.

Even though the last Congress failed to pass other appropriations bills (creating the need for the currently-pending spending measure), it did provide billions to get Obamacare launched. The money was directly appropriated as part of the health care legislation instead of being included in a separate appropriations bill, as is the normal practice.

The details are in a Congressional Research Service report issued last October, “Appropriations and Fund Transfers in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).” CRS devotes seven pages to describing the billions of dollars that the Obama administration is now spending to implement the new law.

Conservatives agree with the American people that Obamacare should be repealed. Short of outright repeal, leaders from 32 conservative groups in the Conservative Action Project have jointly stated that the next-best strategy is defunding it. As their report states, “The safest route for legislatively combating Obamacare is to defund it. Now that the statute has been declared unconstitutional, Congress should use the power of the purse to deny funding for the individual mandate, employer mandates, and writing the 100s of regulations needed to impose Obamacare. Such legislation will not in any way jeopardize the ongoing litigation efforts.”

It’s good that a federal judge has declared Obamacare unconstitutional, but the White House insists it’s going forward anyway. It’s also good that the House may cut off any new money to implement Obamacare. But unless Congress deals with the pot of money already appropriated for Obamacare, we won’t be able to fully defund it.

Ernest Istook was a U.S. Congressman for 14 years and is now a Distinguished Fellow at The Heritage Foundation.