Colorado House Republicans join others in failed attempt to end Obamacare

Colorado’s 4th District Congressman Cory Gardner called the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act “the Holy Grail” of House Republican crusades. He must be thinking of the Monte Python version of the King Arthur legend. Gardner and his tea party colleagues in the House are like the Black Knight, who insists he can fight on, even after King Arthur chops off his arms and legs.

Like the Black Knight, the GOP tea party fanatics refuse to yield the field, even though they have been unhorsed repeatedly. One by one, Senate Democrats rejected House Republican efforts to pass some kind of anti-Affordable Care Act legislation in the waning hours of the just-ended government fiscal year.

Their first GOP maneuver was to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government running until December that included no funding for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. This was a non-starter in the Senate, as Democrats quickly returned the bill to the House for reconsideration.

In rapid succession, the tea party caucus evolved from plans to defund Obamacare to delaying the individual mandate and then to a proposal delaying implementation of health care legislation for another year.

As the clock ran out on the fiscal year, House tea party Republicans became more and more desperate for anything they could declare as a victory against implementation of Obamacare.

Their demands diminished as, one by one, the Democrats in the Senate rejected their efforts to defund or delay implementation.

Frustrated by their failure to stop the Affordable Care Act after repeated votes to defund it, House Republicans cynically attempted to put the onus for their failure on the Republican minority in the Senate.

In a statement, Colorado’s 3rd District Rep. Scott Tipton said, “There’s no question that the House wants this law repealed and replaced — we’ve voted more than 40 times to that effect. Now it’s up to the Senate. Now we have to let the legislative process work and give the Senate the opportunity to do its part to help stop Obamacare. Today’s vote in the House provides that opportunity.”

Like millions of my fellow Americans, I followed the House Republicans move by move as their intransigence drove them to send increasingly unacceptable proposals to the Democrats who control the Senate. Driven by an irrational fear of the health insurance program, the House tea party Republicans staked their future on their ability to bully the Senate and the president until their demands to repeal the act were met.

In his second term, President Barack Obama is wiser and wilier than the community organizer he tried to be in his first term.

His offers to compromise rejected again and again in his first term, the president has dug in his heels this time and simply refused to negotiate on a health care bill that’s already law, reviewed and approved by the Supreme Court and largely funded when the law was passed.

For their part, House Republicans, after failing to defund, delay or destroy the act, simply declared victory and dumped the whole mess into the unwilling laps of Senate Republicans.

Meantime, the clock ran out on the old fiscal year Monday night, forcing the government to begin the process of shutting down nonessential agencies as funding runs out.

Tuesday morning, 800,000 “nonessential” federal employees began to be furloughed. National parks and monuments began to close, as did most federal offices. Thousands of “essential” personnel like Border Patrol agents and federal prison guards will be required to serve without pay. Even the work of Congressional committees could be curtailed as supporting services close down.

Placing full responsibility on the GOP for the consequences of the shutdown, Obama warned that the national economy, still destabilized by the economic shocks of the past six years, will suffer even further damage if the House Republicans continue to hold the country hostage in order to force their radical economic views on the nation.

But, despite what Democrats describe as a GOP “temper tantrum,” one aspect of government will not be affected. The day has arrived, after 60 years of effort by both parties, when millions of Americans will be able to sign up for affordable health care for the first time in their lives.

Bill Grant lives in Grand Junction. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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