Reps. Chris Gibson and Richard Hanna were the only two House Republicans tooppose delaying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as a condition for keeping the government open.
The Obamacare delay passed the House late Saturday night. It has no chance in the Senate and will likely result in the government’s lights going out on October 1st.
It was only about a week ago that Gibson voted to defund the Affordable Care Act as part of the House’s first stab at the spending plan, before the Senate stripped the language from the bill on Friday. Hanna didn’t vote on that initial resolution.
The congressmen did support a measure, attached to the spending plan, that would repeal the law’s medical device tax.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Gibson, who is facing a tough 2014 election fight from millionaire Sean Eldridge, says he still opposes Obamacare, but fears the House’s methods to kill the law will likely spark a shutdown.
“I voted “no” tonight on attaching a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the latest version of a “Continuing Resolution (CR)” because I don’t agree with this approach.
I believe the Senate will reject this CR and we’ll be back to square one on Monday, increasing the likelihood of a government shutdown – which I oppose.
From my perspective, the desired end state remains the same – a delay of the Affordable Care Act / Obamacare and a temporary lifting of the sequester – both to January 2015. However, we need a successful strategy to get that implemented and this approach will not do it.
What we should do instead is take the Senate CR and add a simple amendment – overturning the Obama Administration’s recent rule providing health care insurance subsidies for Members of Congress and their staff.
The Administration made an exception for Congress to permit these benefits. “Fixing” this problem for Congress before the American people are protected from adverse impacts of the law is wrong.
I believe this amendment would likely pass the Senate, thus ending the stalemate over the continuing resolution and preventing a shutdown. More importantly, in the coming weeks as negotiations continue I think adopting this simple amendment is our best opportunity to delay implementation of Obamacare. Once Congress is forced to live within the letter of the law, all parties (including the Democrats who still support it) will be much more willing to recognize the significant issues facing the ACA and agree to delay its implementation.
The President has repeatedly said: “I’m not going to negotiate.” The democratic process doesn’t work that way. Both parties need to work together – and that means sincere negotiations and compromise.
But we can’t give up. We can still forge a bipartisan, long-term solution that funds our government, raises the debt ceiling, lifts the sequester, and delays the ACA for one year. My approach would start us down that path and I encourage the President, the Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader to consider it immediately.”
Interestingly, before the vote was even cast, Eldridge, assuming Gibson would vote with Republicans, blasted out a statement criticizing his opponent:
“Congressman Gibson and his Republican colleagues are poised to bring us one step closer to a government shutdown that would have devastating consequences for families in our region,” said Eldridge. “A government shutdown would delay veterans’ benefits and military pay, and hundreds of thousands of government employees would go without a paycheck, while Congressman Gibson and his colleagues in Congress would still receive theirs.
“Last week Congressman Gibson noted that his vote on the shutdown would ‘allow the American people to weigh in through the 2014 elections on the direction that they want our government to take.’ He’s right. It’s time to put an end to these political games that are hurting our economy and middle class families.”
Hanna, meanwhile, released this statement shortly after the vote:
“I continue to support repealing and replacing Obamacare with reforms that actually reduce health care costs and increase coverage for upstate New Yorkers. But as a lifelong and consistent supporter of women’s rights and health care, I do not support addressing divisive social issues such as access to birth control on a last-minute continuing resolution. I look forward to supporting legislation to fund the government at responsible spending levels and pursuing achievable and appropriate reforms to our health care system.”
Hanna is referring to a clause in the amendment that would delay for a year the President’s controversial measure requiring employers cover birth control as part of their health insurance packages. This is the one that angered the Catholic Church during last year’s presidential election.
Reps. Michael Grimm and Tom Reed, who, like Gibson, are facing tough Democratic challengers next year, voted with Republicans to delay the Affordable Care Act, a move that is opposed by the President and Senate Democrats and will likely lead to a shutdown starting Tuesday.