Top Republicans had indicated they have little appetite for a shutdown and would be willing to the pass the bill without the health care provision. But it is unclear how much clout the leadership has over tea party-backed lawmakers still insisting the shutdown is worth the risk.
The tactic is dividing Capitol Hill Republicans, and the results of a shutdown are being described as a “disaster” that could hurt the economy or the GOP’s standing in public-opinion surveys.
“The real disaster is Obamacare itself,” Rubio said in a Senate floor speech in July when he doubted whether some of the state exchanges would be up and running.
Rubio pointed out that Obama postponed a mandate that employers offer health insurance: “It is such a disaster that the people who supported it are now delaying implementing portions of it.”
During the August recess, Rubio toured parts of North and Central Florida to highlight what he said were the failures of Obamacare as seen through the eyes of regular Florida citizens and businesses, like the iconic Gatorland and SeaWorld theme parks in the Orlando area.
There, Rubio said, park owners are like other businesses big and small that are struggling over how to balance higher insurance costs, with the need to keep people employed and customer prices low.
Sebelius rebutted some of the criticism in singling out reports about SeaWorld scaling back part-time employees. She said SeaWorld is adding more full-time employees and said that “they will have affordable health coverage for the first time ever in the new markets.”
She bashed the Florida Legislature for passing a law last year that, for two years, removes the state’s insurance office from reviewing the cost of health insurance plans offered through the exchanges.
The law could allow insurers to raise rates with little oversight, which could put “Florida consumers at great risk,” Sebelius said. Republicans say the statute is designed to remove conflicts between state and federal health insurance law. The law, which Sebelius said was unique to Florida, was just one example of efforts in Tallahassee to slow, disrupt or question Obamacare by:
• Suing to block Obamacare as unconstitutional. Joined by peers in other conservative-run states, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi lost that battle in the U.S. Supreme Court.
• Rejecting $9 billion in extra federal Obamacare money over three years to expand Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor. Scott called for the expansion of Medicaid last year, but he spent no political capital to try to persuade a recalcitrant Florida House to back him.
• Proposing a state constitutional amendment in 2012 designed to block Obamacare-like government requirements that people buy health insurance. It failed, with 48.5 percent supporting it and 51.5 opposing.
• Refusing to set up the state exchanges, even returning federal incentive grant money designed to do it.
• Heavily regulating Obamacare “navigators,” health coordinators who would help people figure out the complicated. The Department of Health, a Scott agency, earlier this month ordered 60 county health departments to deny navigators the ability to tout the new health-insurance law on premises.