As a result, conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz and the House Freedom Caucus have been pushing leadership to strip the group’s funding in a must-pass continuing resolution at the end of this month and daring Obama to veto it.
To avoid a government shutdown that tactic would almost certainly bring on, leaders have floated the idea of using the reconciliation process to target the group’s federal dollars instead. That has piqued the interest of some of the staunchest antiabortion members.
“I believe it’s the best strategy. … Why do we have fiscal issues? Isn’t it to sustain life itself?” Rep. Trent Franks said. “Recent revelations in these videos have called the entire country to ask the question, ‘Who truly are we?’”
Leadership aides cautioned that no decision has been made as to how the new majority will use the reconciliation process and a final choice does not appear to be imminent. Still, the tactic could help to corral votes from conservative members both for the clean continuing resolution leaders are now pushing to avoid a federal shutdown in October, and later this year, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to bring appropriations bills altering sequestration spending caps for both defense and nondefense to the floor.
Yet others, who had hoped to use the tactic to highlight fiscal policy, disagree. Rep. Tom McClintock last week resigned from the House Freedom Caucus over objections to their push for an abortion showdown in a spending bill, and he said making a similar statement through reconciliation would not be his preference either.
“The reconciliation process was designed so that Congress can effectively implement its budget,” he said. “I believe that reconciliation should be used for the sole purpose of bringing our spending back on a course toward fiscal solvency.”
Other members have broached the idea of using reconciliation to again try to repeal Obama’s health care law. McConnell has repeatedly said that the Senate would pursue that strategy, promising Sen. Mike Lee in July that the upper chamber would use reconciliation to repeal as much of the law as possible. But McConnell and other Republican leaders have left open the possibility of coupling a repeal and other policy changes into the reconciliation process.
“We will focus specifically on Obamacare, but other areas may be included,” Sen. John Barrasso said earlier this summer.
A repeal of the Affordable Care Act would certainly draw a veto from the president, showing the electorate a distinction between the two parties. But Franks said it’s a distinction that has already been well-defined, so Republicans should move on.
“Let’s say we get another vote on Obamacare and we get it to the president’s desk. He vetoes it right?” Franks said. “That shows he’s for Obamacare right? And we voted to repeal it. That shows we’re against it. Is that news to the American people?”