A local congressman was one of 80 House Republicans who urged their leader Thursday to trigger a government shutdown rather than fund the implementation of the health care overhaul they call "Obamacare."
Congressman Jason Smith, who represents Missouri’s Eighth District, signed a letter that asked House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to resist any spending bills that would accommodate the new health care law, which is nearing a critical stage of signing up millions of Americans for health coverage.
In an email to the Daily News, Smith wrote, “While I would prefer the House of Representatives do its job and pass all appropriations bill and not fund Obamacare through the appropriations process, defunding Obamacare is a priority.
“Families and small business owners across our district have told me how Obamacare is already hurting them. We cannot allow this law to keep killing jobs and raising costs on families."
The only other Missouri congressman to sign the letter was Sam Graves, of Missouri’s Sixth District.
Because it's virtually certain that President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate would reject such demands, leaders of both parties say the standoff likely would result in a partial shutdown of the federal government, similar to those that occurred in 1995 and 1996.
The letter is mixed news for Boehner and other GOP leaders who view a government shutdown as politically unwise.
With more than a third of the House's 233 Republicans signing the letter, a solid majority of 153 has refrained from trying to limit Boehner's options.
That presumably would allow the speaker to push a bipartisan bill that funds the health law and is supported by a "majority of the majority" of his fellow Republicans, which Boehner says is essential.
However, he would need more than 60 Democratic votes to pass such a bill. That would give Democrats a major voice in its details.
The House letter was authored by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. It urges Boehner "to affirmatively de-fund the implementation and enforcement of Obamacare in any relevant appropriations bill," including "any continuing appropriations bill."
At least a dozen Senate Republicans have signed a similar letter.
The federal 2013 fiscal year ends Sept. 30. New money must be appropriated by then to avoid a shutdown of countless government offices and agencies.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.