House Republicans put out a warning Friday to Red State Democrats in the Senate: Watch your back.
In a raucous celebration after passage of a continuing resolution to defund the Affordable Care Act, House Majority Leader and Virginia Republican Eric Cantor called out four lawmakers facing reelection in 2014 -- Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.
"I want to know where Senator Pryor stands on protecting the middle class," he added.
"How about Kay Hagan in North Carolina? Does she understand the consequences that Obamacare is having in her state?"
"What about Mary Landrieu of Louisiana?" Cantor continued
. "And finally, what about Mark Begich of Alaska? ... Will he vote to keep Obamacare in place?"
Cantor noted “many Senate Republicans have promised to leave no stone unturned fighting this bill," naming Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah as House Republican hooted and hollered.
"And all of us here support that effort. Now we’re calling on Senate Democrats to do the same thing.”
Cantor made a similar point to Fox News
on the eve of the House vote.
“Remember this puts the Democrats … in a tough position,” he said. “Obamacare has huge impacts in those states. These are Democratic senators who are up for reelection. Let’s see how they respond because they also have to be held to account for Obamacare.”
Other House Republicans have hammered at the same point, including Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who said vulnerable Democrats would be committing "political suicide" if they if they voted against defunding, The Hill reported
And Republican Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp voiced a similar view Wednesday.
"I want to see Mark Pryor vote on it," he told the Huffington Post. "I think people like [Pryor's GOP Senate opponent, Rep.] Tom Cotton and all their future opponents think this is a great thing politically."
The targeted Red State Dems were unmoved.
"We're not going through another [vote to repeal Obamacare], 43rd or 44th -- no," Begich told reporters, adding that the House should "quit playing games" with funding the government and raising the debt ceiling.
"Do I have issues with Obamacare? Yes. We've proposed multiple amendments and ideas to fix it, to make it better and take out things that aren't working ... but we're not going through this process."
Pryor also said he would oppose such a bill. "We voted on Obamacare ... and it's the law of the land. It's been through the Supreme Court," he said. "It's not perfect, but let's work to make it better."
Spokespeople for Hagan and Landrieu also told the Huffington Post they'd vote down a measure defunding Obamacare.
Cantor spokesman Rory Cooper pressed the argument, saying all four of the senators owed their constituents an answer.
"Senate Democrats like Pryor, Landrieu, Hagan and Begich don’t need to tell Huffington Post their position on Obamacare; they need to tell the working men and women in their states who are losing jobs at grocery stores or diners and whose out-of-pocket expenses are going up as a result of this law," Cooper wrote in an email.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee and other groups have been seeking to make the new healthcare law an issue in the midterms, focusing attacks on any delays in and roadblocks to the law's implementation.
A spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee dismissed the warning from Cantor.
"With all due respect, Eric Cantor's political strategy has transformed him into one of the most unpopular people in the commonwealth of Virginia and all of American politics," said spokesman Matt Canter.
"Even Bill O'Reilly calls this what it is."
Still, conservatives who have pushed for the defunding resolution will regard Friday's vote as a victory heading into elections in 2014.
"It's going to create a very difficult vote for Red State Democrats," an aide to one of the pro-defunding senators told the Washington Examiner
"At the end of the day, there will be a vote to support defunding or to oppose it, and Harry Reid is going to force his members to vote his way, and then we're going to have those votes. We're going to have the votes from Begich and from Kay Hagan and from Pryor that are voting to shut down the government in order to protect Obamacare. So, we're going to win something out of this," the aide said.
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