Sen. Ted Cruz has called for a grassroots push aimed at persuading Republicans to eliminate funding for ObamaCare, suggesting that a mobilized effort could overcome arguments from Democrats who would fault the GOP for shutting down government.
In a speech Friday at the annual RedState Gathering of conservative activists, the Texas Republican said that one way of de-funding the law would be to hold up a continuing funding resolution to keep government agencies running after Sept. 30.
That effort should start in the House, he said, with passage of a resolution that would fund government with the exception of the health care law.
"We have to stand up and win the argument," Cruz said to spirited applause on the opening day of the annual gathering.
Cruz, R-Texas, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal were opening day speakers. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who launched his 2012 Republican presidential bid at a RedState Gathering, speaks Saturday.
"We don't have the votes right now. In fact, to be honest. We're not close," Cruz said. But, he noted, he won a come-from-behind victory in Texas' Republican Senate primary last year with strong grassroots support, beginning with conservative bloggers.
Jindal, a Republican and vocal critic of ObamaCare, called for the law to be repealed and replaced with an alternative plan crafted by Republicans, WWL-TV reported.
"I know there's a debate in Washington, D.C. about ObamaCare and about elections. Look we don't need to stop fighting. We need to do everything we can to repeal this awful law and replace it with a conservative solution," Jindal said.
Cruz and Jindal spoke on the same day liberal groups announced a campaign in Louisiana and nine other states to counter criticism of the health care law and encourage those who need insurance to enroll in the state exchanges established under the law when the enrollment period opens Oct. 1.
Michael Beychok, a Louisiana political consultant working with the groups Americans United for Change and Protect Your Care, said congressional critics of the program have failed to inform their constituents about all aspects of the law. "What our positive information campaign hopes to do is to let people know through having events around the state that this is what is available, this is what's coming and you can start enrolling in a couple of months," Beychok said.
Cruz on Friday echoed opponents who have said the law will cost jobs and weigh on workers, saying some companies will cut employees and work hours to avoid coverage requirements.
Backers have emphasized expanded availability of coverage and requirements that insurers no longer deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, while allowing parents to keep dependent offspring covered until age 26.
"We're going to talk to the American people about what they're getting with Obamacare," Brad Woodhouse of Americans United for Change said, adding the groups also emphasize what benefits would be lost if the law was repealed.
On Friday, the GOP-controlled House passed for the 40th time a measure aimed at repealing ObamaCare. The bill preventing the Internal Revenue Service from implementing any part of the health care law passed on a near party-line vote of 232-185. But the legislation is certain to be ignored in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
With the IRS under congressional and Justice Department investigations for its mishandling of groups' applications for tax-exempt status, Republicans warned that the agency should not get involved in Americans' health care.
Most of the measures have died in the Democratic-controlled Senate. A handful have been enacted, including one that reduced small business record-keeping the law had required.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.