Conservative Republicans and outside advocacy groups spent the summer pushing Congress to defund President Obama's health care law and hoped to carry that momentum into September, when Congress could vote on it. But they now face an unexpected obstacle: The all-consuming debate over military intervention in Syria.

The push to defund Obamacare as part of budget debates this fall has been a defining issue for some rising Republican stars such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who is widely viewed as a potential 2016 presidential contender. And Republicans are hoping Obamacare will prove a major political liability for Democrats in the 2014 mid-term elections.

Conservative groups have spent vast resources during Congress' August recess on campaign-style events and advertising urging lawmakers to defund the law, even if that effort derails budget negotiations and forces the federal government to shut down.

Heritage Action, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation, underwrote a cross-country “Defund Obamacare Town Hall Tour," and the Republican National Committee launched a website, "Obamacare Costs."

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