WASHINGTON (CNN) – With a possible government shutdown looming, top House Republicans gathered Saturday to try to work out a spending plan acceptable to tea party conservatives who demand that it must hurt Obamacare in some fashion.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor headed into the office of Speaker John Boehner to prepare for a noon meeting with the Republican caucus intended to forge a counteroffer to the Senate version sent over on Friday.
In a strict party line vote, Senate Democrats restored funding for President Barack Obama’s signature health care reforms that House Republicans had eliminated in their original proposal to extend government funding beyond the end of the current fiscal year on Monday.
A similar 54-44 Senate vote then sent the measure back to the House, leaving Boehner with the choice of urging his divided Republican caucus to vote with Democrats to pass the Senate plan, or to yield again to the tea party wing that seeks to undermine Obamacare.
Now House Republicans are looking at less comprehensive attacks on the health care reforms — such as a one-year delay in fully implementing them or eliminating a tax the Affordable Care Act imposes on medical equipment — to attach to the spending plan and send it back to the Senate.
The White House made clear on Saturday that Obama has rejected any effort to tie provisions undermining Obamacare to the spending measure needed to prevent the government from starting to shut down on Tuesday.
A White House official referred CNN to Obama’s statement Friday on the issue, saying “I don’t think the president could have been any more clear.”
“As I’ve said before, if Republicans have specific ideas on how to genuinely improve the law, rather than gut it, rather than delay it, rather than repeal it, I’m happy to work with them on that through the normal democratic processes,” Obama said Friday. “But that will not happen under the threat of a shutdown.”