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President Barack Obama accuses Republicans of 'trying to mess with me' after House vote to defund health care law

The U.S. Senate now receives a must-pass spending bill that defunds Obamacare. The wrangling to avoid a government shutdown could stretch into next weekend.
by Chris Casteel Published: September 20, 2013

President Barack Obama accused congressional Republicans on Friday of “trying to mess with me” after the House voted to defund Obamacare in a must-pass spending bill.

“They're focused on politics,” the president said at a Ford Motor Co. plant near Kansas City. “They're focused on trying to mess with me.”

The president's comments came just hours after the Republican-controlled House approved a resolution to keep government funded through Dec. 15 while denying money to implement the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The federal government's fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and Congress must approve funding to keep agencies operating after that day. Though Social Security checks and Medicare wouldn't be affected, many other services would be cut off in the event of a shutdown.

“This is not abstract,” the president said Friday. “Hundreds of thousands of Americans will not be allowed to go to work. Our men and women in uniform, even those deployed overseas, won't get their paychecks on time. Small businesses, they won't get their loans processed.”

The House bill passed 230-189; two Democrats voted for it, while one Republican opposed it.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said, “The president's health care law is turning our full-time economy into a part-time economy. Let's defund this law and protect the American people from the economic calamity we know this law will create.”

Focus is now on Senate

The focus now shifts to the Democratic-controlled Senate and the two tea party Republicans — Sens. Ted Cruz, of Texas, and Mike Lee, of Utah — who have been driving the effort to defund Obamacare through the spending bill.

Some House Republicans have accused Cruz of talking big but then surrendering this week to the realities of a Democratic majority when he made tepid comments about the bill's chances. Cruz on Friday called for party unity.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has already declared the legislation dead and is expected to employ procedural maneuvers to strip out the House language on Obamacare.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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