We are hearing from many of our representatives that it just isn’t possible to defund Obamacare because the House rules say they can’t. This, as it happens, is just a dodge. The House has defunded separate things while passing the rest of a budget many times.
One of the things that weak-willed Republicans that don’t want to discuss defunding Obamacare say is that the mandatory spending cannot be clocked with an appropriations bill. This is simply not true. In fact, it has been done many times in the past.
The most obvious example is the Hyde Amendment which has renewed every single year since 1976 and prevents the expenditure of federal tax dollars on abortion. It applies both to discretionary spending as well as mandatory spending.
But abortion, you may say, is such a special situation that maybe it should be treated as such and left out of the discussion.
Then let’s do that. Let’s forget the Hyde Amendment. But there is far more evidence that the House commonly makes changes to appropriations.
Another example of goes by the somewhat absurd name of CHiMPS. This is the name bestowed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) upon changes in mandatory spending bills.
As recent as 2011 the House made changes to several bills to save the treasury millions.
In fact, parts of Obamacare have already been defunded when the House eliminated $2.2 billion in the “permanently cancelled” funding to Obama’s co-op health insurance program (P.L. 112-10). Several other parts of Obamacare has also already been defunded and eliminated.
But this is all current examples. The truth is examples like this go back all the way to the 1980s. AsThe Heritage Foundation points out.
Historically, Congress has used the “power of the purse” broadly to make key policy statements through defunding. For instance, in 1982 Congress acted to block the Reagan Administration’s policy for supporting the Contra forces opposing the Nicaraguan government. As part of Public Law 97-377, Congress prohibited both the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency from furnishing military equipment and support to any group for the purpose of overthrowing the Nicaraguan government. Even though defense spending is not funded through mandatory appropriations, the example demonstrates that defunding has been–and remains–a powerful tool Congress can use to affect public policy.
So, when your Congressman tells you that Congress just can’t defund mandatory programs, tell him he and his comrades in the House have already done so and have been doing it for at least 30 years.