Washington (CNN) - The House of Representatives voted Friday to bar any federal agency from spending money to implement the new health care law.
The vote was on an GOP amendment to a bill that would cut government spending for the rest of this fiscal year, and fell mostly along party lines, 239-187.
The Republican-led House passed a measure last month repealing health care, but that bill is unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate where Democrats are in control. The Friday vote was the first attempt by House Republicans to block the law by denying money to agencies – such as the Department of Health and Human Services - which are responsible for implementing the various provisions of the health care law. The measure applies to 2011 funds. The biggest parts of the law take effect in 2014.
Montana Republican Denny Rehberg sponsored the amendment and argued that the law, which he called "Obamacare" was "big government" and needed to be repealed. He said if it can't be repealed, Republicans "are going to try and defund it to the best of our ability."
Democrats argued that attaching this amendment to a spending bill to keep the government running only increases the chance that the fight over the bill could lead to a government shutdown.
Michigan Democratic Rep Sander Levin argued, "If this amendment would become part of the CR [continuing resolution] there will be no CR." Addressing House Republicans on the House floor, Levin said, "and that will be your responsibility, your responsibility."
Levin said cancelling money for the health care law would "paralyze" agencies from laying the groundwork for big reforms coming in 2014. "Instead of searching for common ground this amendment intensifies warfare. Instead of collaboration this amendment would mean chaos."
Perhaps recognizing that the amendment is unlikely to survive negotiations with the Senate, Rehberg said this was only the first attempt to defund the law. "If we are not successful this time we are going to try again and again and again until we have either a Senate that's willing to pass it or a president that understands that we cannot do this to the American people."