Friday, September 20, 2013

Alaska Congressman Don Young Joins U.S. House In Voting To Defund Obamacare 230-189-13 While Funding The Rest Of Government Through December 15th

Alaska Congressman Don Young joined with the majority who voted to pass legislation that defunds Obamacare but keeps the Federal government running through December 15th. It replaces Obamacare with a plan that expands tax breaks for Americans who buy their own insurance, and sets total funding for discretionary federal programs at $986.3 billion per year, the same level as in fiscal 2013; this would require a $19 billion cut next year to stay consistent with the sequester's requirements for 2014. The specific legislation was H.J.Res. 59, the Continuing Appropriations Resolution of 2014, and the vote was 230-189-13. Voting was strictly along party lines, with Republicans voting 228-1-3 in favor, and Democrats voting 2-188-10 against. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA2) was the only GOP "No" vote, while Reps. Jim Matheson (D-UT4) and Mike McIntyre (D-NC7) were the only Democratic "No" votes.

-- Read the full roll call vote on Govtrack (listed by state) or on the U.S. House website.

According to this summary of H.J.Res. 59's major provisions, the bill does not defund Obamacare by name, but by omission. The specific language reads "Appropriates amounts for continuing operations, projects, or activities which were conducted in FY2013 and for which appropriations, funds, or other authority were made available..." Since Obamacare doesn't become effective until October 1st, it is not an activity, operation, or project which was conducted in FY2013, and so it is excluded.

After the vote, Congressman Young issued the following statement:

“One of the most fundamental jobs Congress has is to pass legislation to fund the government, and today the Republican – led House did just that; passing a fiscally responsible CR that keeps the government running. Having been around during the last government shut down in the 90’s, I saw firsthand the detrimental effects it can have on the country, and we cannot afford to go down that road again. Today the House also voted to defund Obamacare, one of the worst pieces of legislation passed out of Congress during my 40 years in Washington. Since the law’s passage in 2009, the Administration has issued nearly 20,000 pages of regulations associated with Obamacare that will crush Alaskan households under a mountain of red tape. In Alaska, health insurance premiums for people purchasing health insurance on the individual market are expected to increase by 30% to 80%, an increase Alaskans simply cannot afford.

“It is now time for the Senate to put up or shut up, and show the American people where they stand on the President’s tragically flawed government takeover of health care.”

In addition to forcing all Americans to buy health insurance, Obamacare has triggered numerous side effects. Employers nationwide have either been booting employees off company-sponsored health plans or have cut employees hours below the 30-hour threshold mandating Obamacare. Obamacare enshrines the worst aspects of both the private sector and the public sector, and could be considered a form of "TARP" for the insurance industry. Opinion polls not only show support for Obamacare continuing to erode, but a September 17th Rasmussen Poll indicates that 51 percent of respondents support shutting down the U.S. government until GOP and Democrat lawmakers in Congress can figure out how to cut the massive federal budget -- and how to slash funding for Obama’s deeply controversial healthcare regime. Sarah Palin also supports defunding Obamacare.

What's Next: Passage of the bill sets up a showdown with the U.S. Senate which could trigger a possible government shutdown beginning October 1st. The Obamacare language is expected to be stripped from the bill in the Senate, setting up a critical week of negotiations beginning the week of September 23rd. House Republicans have canceled a planned recess to return to Washington on Wednesday September 25th, and their leaders have warned the House could be in session next weekend. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is already using this vote to target Democratic senators he believes to be vulnerable; Cantor listed off the names of four up for reelection in 2014 and cited problems with the healthcare law in their states. The names he listed were Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Mark Begich (D-AK); Begich and Pryor are on record as opposing the defunding of Obamacare. But even if the bill manages to make it out of the Senate with the defund portion intact, the White House promises it will veto the bill.

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