GOP House members meet with McConnell on government shutdown if Democrats don’t back contraceptive requirement

Thirteen Republican members of the House Freedom Caucus met on Tuesday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to urge him to push forward with legislation that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The group’s notable proviso? It wants the Senate to force a government shutdown if Democrats don’t agree to waive a mandate in the Biden-Ryan health care bill, which requires insurance plans to cover contraceptives.

The Florida Republican congressman Matt Gaetz, who organized the meeting, told reporters that the scenario they had discussed — with the GOP using a series of votes in the House and Senate to threaten a partial government shutdown to secure the changes the group believes are necessary — was “the only strategy.” Gaetz added that the group’s goal “is to pass a bill. A long-term Obamacare replacement bill.” It’s unclear how long that effort would take, but in order to be enacted, that bill would need 60 votes in the Senate and Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote, both of which are just as hard as securing 50 votes in the Senate.

Trump doesn’t seem too thrilled about this scenario:

It’s close to 50 votes. We can get it to 60. But if not, we’ll just end it all. Dems put “Blocking Health Care Relief for the American People” on their website. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2018

What’s been lost in the public discourse surrounding the end of the government shutdown in 2017 is that the Republicans put up Senate budget votes to fund the government without funding a controversial fix for the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which would have allowed 800,000 young undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States. However, the Democrats walked away from that compromise, seeing it as too conservative, and Trump has threatened on several occasions since then to veto another government funding bill that does not include funding for a border wall and other immigration provisions.

“I know there are people in some areas of the country that want it done tomorrow and we can do it tomorrow,” Gaetz told reporters Tuesday, echoing what some Republicans have said for months now. “But many Democrats won’t support it. … They won’t be part of it. But we have to force it by not funding the government.”

From the Democrats’ perspective, the GOP continues to seek to eliminate the only significant healthcare law that was passed under President Obama.

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