House to attach 1-year ObamaCare delay to CR? Update: Separate clean CR for Defense

The House will send a continuing resolution to the Senate sometime today, but not the clean CR that the Senate sent to the House.  Instead, Speaker John Boehner and the Republican caucus plan to approve a new stopgap funding measure that includes a one-year delay in the ObamaCare individual mandate, exchanges, and subsidies, as well as a repeal of an unpopular tax on medical devices:

With a government shutdown less than three days away, the House is charging toward delaying Obamacare for one year and repealing the medical device tax in exchange for funding the government, several sources tell POLITICO.

A plan is expected to be finalized Saturday morning during a rare Saturday in session in the Capitol. …

The government shuts down Tuesday if Congress doesn’t pass a government-funding bill before then. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his top lieutenants have told Democrats there could be a vote on a continuing resolution or CR on Saturday, although that timing is still tentative. Republicans have not said what will be in that package or whether Democrats would be inclined to support it.

Boehner will meet with other House GOP leaders at 11 a.m. The House Republican Conference will hold a meeting at noon in the Capitol. The House has passed a funding bill to keep government open until Dec. 15 — but to defund Obamacare. The Senate has passed a funding bill that keeps government open until Nov. 15, but funds the health care law.

This may prove a little more difficult for Democrats to fend off.  They had some room to claim that voters didn’t want a full repeal of ObamaCare, but the myriad of ad hoc delays already imposed by the White House on the rollout makes a stubborn refusal harder to explain.  The latest delay came just two days ago.  If this is such a disaster that the White House has to keep issuing delays piecemeal, why not put the whole thing off a year in order to fix all the problems before forcing Americans into the exchanges?

The medical device tax is another unpopular element that the Senate voted to remove … in a non-binding vote.  That would kill some of the funding for the exchanges, though, and without a replacement would force the White House to either shift funds or delay the subsidies for a while, even without the one-year delay.  Democrats who voted to repeal the tax to answer rising anger from constituents — Senators like Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, for instance — will have to explain stripping it out when it could have meant something, rather than just offering lip-service opposition to the tax. Franken has to answer for that vote next year, as will other Democrats from states redder than Minnesota.

Of course, the Senate can strip those provisions out just as they did with the defunding effort, as Democrats control the upper chamber — which is why defunding was never going to work. Opposing a delay with all of the retreats that the Obama administration has already conducted will be tougher for Senators like Mark Pryor and Mary Landrieu, though, and will expose their supposed “moderate” status for what they really are: rubber stamps for Harry Reid and Barack Obama. And Joe Manchin has already endorsed a delay, don’t forget, which may make Reid’s job in holding the caucus a lot more difficult than in the last round.

It’s interesting that Boehner decided to do this with the CR rather than the debt-ceiling increase, though, as we earlier expected.  Will he return to this with the debt-ceiling increase in the very likely event that the Senate refuses to go along with the delay (and even if they do, Obama will almost certainly veto it), or are they thinking to stick with a proposal to force the use of chained CPI for Social Security inflation adjustments? That should be interesting to watch.

Update: I’d expect the Senate to pass this quickly:

Or else pay the consequences.