Kentucky's congressmen vote with parties on bill to fund government without money for Obamacare

09/20/2013 11:07 AM

Kentucky’s five Republican congressmen stuck with the House GOP majority Friday, voting for the budget measure to fund government minus the Affordable Care Act, as Democrats protested that the move has Washington hurdling toward a shutdown.

The bill to keep the government funded — but without a penny for the Affordable Care Act — passed the House with a final vote of 230-189. Two Democrats — Jim Matheson of Utah and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina — voted for the continuing resolution and one Republican, Scott Rigell of Virginia, voted against.

Republicans in Congress have been pushing for bills that would completely defund Obamacare as part of the continuing resolution. It’s an effort two of Kentucky’s Congressmen, U.S. Reps. Thomas Massie, R-Vanceburg, and Andy Barr, R-Lexington, initially signed onto last month.

This route has given rise to both sides accusing the others of being willing to shut down the government. Democrats say the GOP proposal will cause a stalemate that will allow federal funds to run out when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30. And Republicans say the Democrats will be at fault because all they have to do is agree to the continuing resolution, which defunds the health law. Republican House leaders signed onto the effort to defund earlier this week.

Both sides are accusing each other of my-way-or-the-highway approaches and are digging in their heals.

Kentucky U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, the House Appropriations Committee chairman, ran point for the Republicans during the debate and described the continuing resolution as a “clean” way to extend federal funding without risking a government shutdown that would be “bad for businesses, bad for the troops.”

In an op-ed in the Lexington Herald-Leader Friday, Barr echoed the Republican line that it is the Obama administration and congressional Democrats that are willing to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act, not conservatives.

“The only way the government would shut down under this scenario would be if Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and their liberal allies continue with their my-way-or-the-highway approach of conditioning funding the rest of the government on rushing the implementation of an unpopular law that will increase health care costs, destroy jobs and drive long-term deficits,” Barr said.

But Democrats do not see it that way. House Democratic Floor Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland was among those who blasted Republicans for the approach Friday saying they were taking the country “hostage” with their “destructive obsession with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.” Hoyer called out Rogers, quoting his criticism of the sequester cuts to federal programs:

And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Republican leadership has surrendered to the Tea Party fringe and are willing to cost the country millions of jobs and hurt middle class families.

“It’s now the official Republican position to shut down the government unless they get their way: to give insurance companies free rein to spike premiums, balloon insurance companies’ profits, and take away consumer protections,” said Emily Bittner of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in a statement hitting Barr on the issue. “The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board called this a ‘Kamikaze mission’ and now the Republican leaders are the pilots – but will Congressman Barr put a stop to this Republican-manufactured crisis before it’s too late?”

Kentucky’s delegation in the Senate, U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, have both said it is not a good idea to shut down the government.

About Pure Politics

Pure Politics airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 11:30 p.m. ET in all of cn|2's Kentucky markets. The program features political analysis and news, as well as interviews with officials, candidates, policy makers and political observers.

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