— From Staff and Wire Reports
Congressional representatives Kay Granger and Roger Williams applauded the House vote Friday that will keep the federal government operating for now while defunding Obamacare, the president’s controversial national health care law.
Granger, R-Fort Worth, whose 12th Texas District includes Parker County, said the country cannot afford a government shutdown.
“America needs a long-term budget solution that ends arbitrary spending reductions and goes after Obamacare,” Granger stated. “This resolution gives Congress and the Administration time to come together on a comprehensive budget agreement that reflects the country’s priorities and puts us on a track to a balanced budget. It is the responsibility of Congress to keep the government open and working on behalf of the people. We cannot afford a government shutdown that would weaken our national security, cut payments to our troops, and introduce more uncertainty into the economy. I urge the Senate to consider this legislation as quickly as possible to avoid the damaging consequences.”
Republican and Weatherford businessman Williams (TX-25) called Friday’s largely partisan 230-189 House vote one “that Americans have been asking for.”
“By keeping the government funded, defunding Obamacare, and making good on our nation’s bills, families and businesses across America can rest assured that their taxpayer dollars are being spent in a responsible manner,” Williams stated. “I applaud House leadership and my colleagues for standing strong. The will of the American people cannot be overshadowed by the president and Senate’s threats to veto and throw out this important legislation. I hope Harry Reid brings this bill to the Senate floor quickly.”
President Obama responded in remarks before an audience at a Ford assembly plant near Kansas City, Mo. He blamed a “faction on the far right of the Republican Party” for threatening to shut down government operations or default on government debts. “They’re focused on trying to mess with me,” he told plant workers. “They’re not focused on you.”
In addition to the threat of a partial shutdown a week from Monday, administration officials say that without passage of legislation to allow more federal borrowing, the nation faces the risk of a first-ever default sometime in the second half of next month.
House Republicans intend to vote to raise the nation’s debt limit next week to prevent that from happening. But they have said they will include a one-year delay in Obamacare in the measure to reinforce their determination to eradicate the program.
“The American people don’t want the government shut down, and they don’t want ‘Obamacare,’” Speaker John Boehner said as members of his rank and file cheered at a celebratory rally in the Capitol moments after the 230-189 vote. He stood at a lectern bearing a slogan that read, “#Senate must act.”
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate will act — but not the way Boehner and his tea party-heavy Republican contingent want. Assured of enough Senate votes to keep the government open and the health care law in existence, Reid accused Republicans of attempting “to take an entire law hostage simply to appease the tea party anarchists.”
Unlike other budget showdowns of the recent past, this one pits younger Republicans in the House against GOP veterans in the Senate, although not to the extent it does one party against the other.
Republicans are united in their opposition to the health care law, which they say will force the price of coverage higher and prompt employers to reduce work hours for workers. But they disagree on how to attack it.
The bill that won passage on Friday was all but forced on Boehner and fellow House GOP leaders, who fear a repeat of the twin government shutdowns nearly two decades ago that inflicted serious political damage on Republicans.
Caution on the part of GOP elders was overwhelmed by tea party-aligned lawmakers, who were in turn responding to the urgings of outside groups and their allies in the Senate, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah among them.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.