July 31. 2013 12:06PM

Ayotte: Shutting down government won't de-fund 'Obamacare'

Senior Political Reporter

Sen. Kelly Ayotte said Tuesday she supports de-funding the so-called "Obamacare" health care law but said it can't be accomplished by blocking a continuing resolution and shutting down the government.

"I have consistently opposed the implementation of Obamacare, and I've voted to repeal this deeply flawed law," the New Hampshire Republican said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, automatic spending that Democrats baked into Obamacare when the law was passed can't be undone through a vote on government funding.

"The only way autopilot spending for Obamacare can be stopped is by repealing the law, and I will continue pursuing legislative efforts to do so," she said.

A memo sent Monday from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service to Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said that even if a continuing resolution to fund the government after the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year is not passed, resulting in a government shutdown, "It appears that substantial (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) implementation might continue during a lapse in annual appropriations that resulted in a temporary government shutdown."

A continuing resolution addresses discretionary funding, but the ACA contains automatic, mandatory spending that would continue, according to the CRS.

Ayotte's Senate allies, some of whom may run for President in 2016, support an attempt to tie de-funding the ACA to a continuing resolution.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wrote on RedState.com Tuesday, "The looming September debate on a short-term spending plan is the last best chance to (de-fund the ACA). That's why we must stand united to de-fund ObamaCare as a condition for supporting a short-term spending plan."

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have called for de-funding the law as part of the continuing resolution.

But Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., another Ayotte ally, said he opposes the idea of tying de-funding the ACA to a continuing resolution. He said Republicans will lose the resulting public relations battle.

"I've seen the movie before: Congress never wins," McCain told Politico.com. "They're going to shut down the Grand Canyon; we start hearing from our voters. So far, from what I've heard, there's not a lot of Republicans that believe this is the right path."

Paul was among a group of Republican senators who appeared at a Monday night fund-raiser for the New Hampshire Republican Party, organized by Ayotte, in Washington.

State Republican Chairman Jennifer Horn said Rubio had been slated to attend but was detained in Florida, but his "support was crucial to the event."

Also attending were Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and John Thune, R-S.D.

Also attending, Horn said, was former candidate for governor and the U.S. Senate Ovide Lamontagne, who now heads the Washington-based pro-life group Americans United for Life.

Horn called it "a very successful event."