Chattanooga-area congressmen voted with House Republicans to approve a government funding bill that strips monies marked for implementation of the Affordable Care Act, sending the bill to a Democratic-controlled Senate and threatening a shutdown of the federal government.
Both Reps. Chuck Fleischmann and Scott DesJarlais supported the continuing resolution. The bill, which is widely expected to have provisions pertaining to the health law restored by senators next week, provided the opening shots in a fall set to be marked by wrangling over fiscal issues.
If an agreement can't be reached on the funding bill by Oct. 1, nonessential government services could be shut down until lawmakers are able to agree on a resolution. The debate also comes weeks before members of Congress are set to fight over raising the national debt limit—an argument also expected to be riddled with clashing over the health law.
In news releases Friday, both Fleischmann and DesJarlais defended their votes, returning to familiar attacks on President Barack Obama's signature health law.
"The whole thing must go," Fleischmann said. "At the same time, our nation must continue to move forward and address the real problems that we're facing. That is why this bill also ensures that our government will continue to operate and will do so within the parameters set out by the president's sequester. I hope the Senate will follow our lead and do the responsible thing by keeping our government open and defunding a law that most Americans don't want."
DesJarlais said defunding the health law was an issue that he "simply will not compromise on" during his time in Congress.
"I promised my constituents I would use any and all available methods to defeat the president's health care law, and that is a promise I will make good on," DesJarlais said. "If Senate Democrats want to shut down the government over this unmanageable law that even many of them no longer support, then they will have to answer to the American people."
The Senate is unlikely to be responsive to the congressmen's calls. Despite a group of Republicans supporting the tactic of defunding the health law through a continuing resolution, several, including Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, have said they don't see the method involving a potential government shutdown as warranted in the long run.
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