Leave the Affordable Care Act out of fiscal decisions

September 26, 2013

Republicans in the U.S. House set up a showdown with Democrats who control the U.S. Senate and the Obama Administration by voting Friday to defund the Affordable Care Act.

The provision was included in a continuing resolution approved by the House that would fund government operations through Dec. 15 after the current fiscal years ends Sept. 30.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised that any bill that defunds the health care law will be dead on arrival when it reaches the upper chamber. The Senate is widely expected to strip the language concerning Obamacare out of the bill this week and send it back to the House.

In making good on its threat to defund Obamacare, the House GOP caucus ignored pleas from many Republican senators - including North Carolina’s U.S. Sen. Richard Burr - the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and even the conservative editorial board of the Wall Street Journal to separate the campaign against the health care law from the federal budget negotiations and the looming vote to raise the federal debt limit.

Despite the vitriolic hatred of the law and the president who championed it among the tea party right wing of the Republican Party, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. It was passed by Congress in 2010 and upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012.

Never before has the country witnessed government operations being held hostage to the fate of a single law. The economic consequences of a government shutdown could very well wreak havoc upon the weak economic recovery that has sputtered along for the past couple years.

House Republicans know full well that Democrats in the Senate will never accept their attempt to derail the health care law and that the president would never sign such a measure into law. They are just playing partisan games in order to cater to their political base with no apparent concern for the serious fiscal ramifications of their actions.

House Republicans must stop putting their fervent ideology ahead of the best interests of the country and its people. It’s time for the GOP to abandon its “my way or the highway” style of governing.

— Rocky Mount (N.C.) Telegram