Conservatives Step Up Pressure to Defund Obamacare

Friday, 16 Aug 2013 10:41 AM

By Lisa Barron

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Conservatives are pushing back against calls from some GOP lawmakers to abandon efforts to shut down the government over Obamacare this fall.

Groups such as Freedomworks and Heritage Action are mobilizing activists to press Republicans to support a letter being circulated by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah vowing to vote against any spending bills that contain funding for the Affordable Care Act, reports Politico.

Among those reportedly being targeted are Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and John Cornyn of Texas. The activists plan to demonstrate outside Burr's office in response to his remark that a shutdown over Obamacare funding is the "dumbest idea I've ever heard of" and attend a Coburn town hall meeting to grill him about why he has called the tactic "dishonest."

Many conservatives who back the strategy say there is growing grassroots support for their move to defund the healthcare reform law.

"I have not heard 'don't shut down the government over Obamacare,'" Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman told The Hill about meetings with his constituents over the August recess.

"I have heard this law is not ready for primetime and we need to do anything we can to stop it," added Texas Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, who has held six events in his district this month. "I'm hearing a lot of anger that is right beneath the surface, ready to erupt."

According to The Hill, several other Republicans also said they have heard from constituents demanding that they push to defund Obamacare. Rep. Tom McClintock of California, for one, said Thursday he has assured constituents that he won't vote for any funding bill that does not defund the healthcare law.

But more and more GOP lawmakers are warning that shutting down the government over Obamacare could backfire and hurt the party in next year's elections. Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger joined the chorus this week, saying on Wednesday it could cost Republicans the House majority in 2014.

Addressing the audience at an event hosted by the Illinois chapter of Americans for Prosperity, Kinzinger said, "Potentially there will be a collapse of will to keep the government shut down because soldiers are not getting paid, and all this other stuff's happening, and we turn around and lose 10-20 seats in 2014. And whether we win the battle or not, we've lost the war because Nancy Pelosi's Speaker of the House."

"This is not a disagreement on defunding Obamacare. This is not a disagreement on whether or not we hate the health care bill," he continued. "This is a disagreement on tactics in terms of what is the best way to ensure that in the future we can repeal this law without bringing down the American economy or bringing down the Republican majority in the House."

Kinzinger echoed comments made last week by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia. Speaking to the National Review Online, Cantor said, "In order to avoid a government shutdown, we need 60 votes in the Senate and 218 votes in the House to pass a continuing resolution.

"To get 60 votes in the Senate, you need at least 14 Democrats to join Republicans and pass a CR that defunds Obamacare. Right now, I am not aware of a single Democrat in the Senate who would join us."

But the majority leader continued, "Repealing Obamacare remains the goal, as is doing everything we can to protect people from its harmful effects here and now, like delaying the mandate for people, not just big business."







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