Democrats expected to shoot down amendment that would defund Obamacare until economy improves

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled Senate on Wednesday is expected to shoot down an amendment being pushed by conservative legislators that would delay the funding of President Obama’s far-reaching health-care law until the economy improves.

“If we implement Obamacare now, it is certain to be destructive of growth,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who introduced the amendment, said during a Capitol press conference Wednesday.

Cruz, a Republican, introduced what he called the “Restore Growth First” amendment to the continuing resolution up for debate in Congress, which would fund the federal government after March 27.

Before the vote, the freshman Texas senator openly acknowledged that the amendment had little chance of passing in the Senate. But Cruz argued that it was still important to delay funding of Obamacare until economic growth returns to historic averages.

“Now in my view, Obamacare should be repealed in its entirety,” Cruz said at the press conference in a studio off the Senate floor. “That is why the very first bill I introduced in the U.S. Senate was a bill to repeal every word of Obamacare. But at a minimum, Obamacare should not be implemented at a time when the economy is grasping for breath.”

The Affordable Care Act passed Congress in 2010. The possibility that Republicans in Congress could fully repeal the law died in November when Obama was re-elected and Republicans failed to win control of the Senate.

Other Republican senators who appeared with Cruz at the Wednesday press conference in support of the amendment included Mike Lee of Utah, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Democratic Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin mocked Cruz on the Senate floor for his amendment, criticizing him and Republicans for their “silly games.” “I guess I’m compelled to say, ‘here we go again.’ We’ve been down this road before.”

“I wonder if my friend, the senator from Texas, saw the last election?” Harkin asked, explaining that “the presidential candidate of the Republican Party who said he wanted to repeal the Affordable Care Act didn’t make it – he lost.”

The liberal senator went on to point out that this is the “34th time” a Republican offered to do away with Obamacare.

“And they failed every time,” Harkin said.

UPDATE:  The amendment failed with 45 senators voting for it, and 52 voting against it.

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