Both Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker said Tuesday they would support taking up a House-approved bill to keep the federal agencies running while stripping funds for Obamacare, but stopped short at saying if they would stand by the bill as proposed in the face of a potential government shutdown.
The senators are expected to take up the bill Wednesday, which was approved in a 230-189 House vote last week. Both Reps. Chuck Fleischmann and Scott DesJarlais supported the resolution.
In emailed statements, Alexander and Corker said they would support the bill as proposed to the Senate.
"I will vote for Senate consideration of the House-passed bill that I support—one that continues to fund the government but defunds Obamacare," Alexander said.
Corker added a similar comment.
"I strongly oppose the president's health care law and am deeply concerned about the harmful impact it is having on our country, so I support the House-passed continuing resolution, which defunds the law and prevents a government shutdown and will support the bill on the Senate floor," he said.
Neither senator mentioned the wide expectation of the Democrat-controlled Senate to strip the bill of provisions related to the Affordable Care Act through a simple majority amendment, which would then send it back to the House later this week. After that, House members would have until an Oct. 1 deadline to consider the Senate version or to put their provisions regarding the health law back in place—posing the threat of a shutdown.
Both senators have offered hints in recent weeks that they are averse to the tactic of shutting down the government to avoid implementing components of President Barack Obama's signature health policy.
In a recent Tennessean report, Alexander was quoted saying he was "not in the shut-down-the-government crowd," referring to a group of conservatives led most notably by Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah. And last week on Twitter, Corker took a shot at Cruz and described defunding the law through a CR as a "box canyon tactic that will fail and weaken our position."
If lawmakers can't reach an agreement on the funding bill, nonessential services of the government will be shut down for the first time since 1996.
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