Before participating in a forum with the Chattanooga Tea Party Thursday, state Rep. Joe Carr slammed Sen. Lamar Alexander for not standing with Republican colleagues to support defunding the Affordable Care Act through a potential government shutdown.
Carr, who is challenging Alexander in next year's Republican primary, issued a press release calling on the senator to "change his mind" and oppose any funding bills that included monies designated for implementation of the new health law. The candidate also criticized Alexander for touting his opposition to the law in a string of recent statements and campaign advertisements.
"He is trying to rewrite history by ignoring his votes yet again," Carr said. "Sen. Alexander stood with President Obama on March 20, 2013, when he voted in favor of the fiscal year 2013 continuing resolution, which included funding for the implementation of Obamacare."
The vote Carr cited was approved by the Senate in a 73-26 roll call, with 20 Republicans supporting the legislation. After voting, Alexander said he supported the bill because it reduced government spending in 36 percent of the budget to 2008 levels.
Later on Thursday, Carr said he thought the prospect of allowing the government to shut down "for a short amount of time" would be better than allowing elements of the Affordable Care Act to stay in place.
"If Obamacare is as bad as Sen. Alexander says it is—and I believe he's right—if it's as cataclysmic as he says, then setting aside government services for a short amount of time is certainly the lesser of two evils," Carr said in an interview with Nooga.com.
Carr was referring to a string of statements and ads by the senator, touting his opposition to the law.
According to a page on Alexander's website, the senator has voted to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act 23 times since it became law, as well as voted overall to oppose or repeal the law and various provisions of it more than 90 times. The senator counts that he has also sponsored bills, written letters or taken other actions against the Affordable Care Act more than 60 times.
In recent weeks, Alexander has said he doesn't see the tactic of defunding the law through threat of a government shutdown as productive. In a recent Tennessean report, the senator said he would prefer to focus on electing more Republicans who could effectively repeal the law down the road.
"I'm not in the shut-down-the-government crowd," Alexander was quoted saying. "I'm in the take-over-the-government crowd."
Carr said that despite the talk, several of Alexander's votes weren't genuine.
"His votes haven't meant anything," he said. "They didn't matter. It's easy for an elected official to hide behind votes that don't matter."
The GOP Senate primary is Aug. 7, 2014.
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