US Capitol

(UPDATED – Post was updated to report some actual votes cast and statements released after the vote)

Over recent months, Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have proposed the idea of fighting a piece of legislation with which they have concerns by not authorizing funds to pay for its implementation. President Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known popularly as ObamaCare, is set to become law on January 1, 2014 and key portions of the law are set to begin functioning on October 1st of this year.

In the absence of a federal budget process within which to fight, the idea is to pass yet another continuing resolution (CR) to authorize funds to operate the government and, at the same time, specifically NOT authorize any funds for the operation and/or further implementation of the ACA.

The move has been criticized by some Republicans and Democrats while being championed by other Republicans. The issues seem to be the possibility of such an action leading to a government shutdown which could be blamed on the GOP; the damage to the President from having such a significant piece of his agenda done away with; the need to do something soon given the dangers that Democrats and Republicans alike see in the full implementation of the law, and; the futility of doing something which has little chance of success.

Late Wednesday, the US House announced that they would hold a vote today on defunding the ACA via continuing resolution.

On Thursday morning, I contacted each of Tennessee’s federal Senators and Representatives and the GOP challengers for Senator Alexander, Congressman DesJarlais and Congressman Cooper requesting a statement on the matter in order to get it on the record before today’s vote. Each office had about 20 hours to respond. Here are their statements.

Lamar Alexander – (R-TN)

 Senator Alexander’s office did not respond to the request for a statement.

Joe Carr – (R Challenger to Lamar Alexander)

I support defunding Obamacare via the Continuing Resolution as proposed by Lee and Cruz. Obamacare is bad for America and we should be doing everything possible to stop it. I choose to stand up and fight with Senators Cruz, Lee, and the citizens of Tennessee to defund this bad bill. Obamacare is an attack against our individual liberty and religious freedoms. It dissolves physician-patient relationships and is a drain on our economy.  It’s time we stand up and fight for the core principles this nation was founded on. By fighting against Obamacare we are fighting to protect liberty. (Click through to an expanded statement from Carr on the issue)

Bob Corker – (R-TN)

 I strongly opposed the health care law and have sponsored legislation to repeal the employer mandate, the individual mandate and the law as a whole.

 

I didn’t go to Harvard or Princeton, but I can count, and tying the defunding effort to the continuing resolution is a box canyon tactic that will leave Republicans in a weak position with no way out. The reality known to everyone, which even proponents of this tactic now admit, is that even if every Republican senator was on board, we don’t have the votes to carry this through and President Obama will never sign a bill that completely defunds his law. The only result the defund ultimatum will guarantee is a government shutdown, which will have very little impact on the law’s implementation because much of its funding comes from outside the discretionary spending process. Furthermore, passing a bill to defund the law does not take any of its harmful policies off the books.

 

This doesn’t mean we stop fighting to prevent the harmful impacts this law is having on American families and businesses, but it does mean we must fight smarter. I worry that by campaigning for measures that have no chance of coming to pass, some members of my party may win a short-term PR battle, but will ultimately damage efforts that are actually attainable while we only hold one house of the legislature, like delaying the individual mandate or delaying premium subsidies until incomes can be verified.

Phil Roe – (R-TN01)

It is very important we continue to work tirelessly and use every tool we have to defund, dismantle, repeal and replace the president’s health care law. I, like the majority of Americans, am adamantly opposed to this law and am proud to support this continuing resolution. I hope my conservative colleagues in the Senate will fight to uphold the provision that defunds ObamaCare when the continuing resolation comes up for a vote on the Senate floor.

Jimmy Duncan – (R-TN02)

 Rep. Duncan’s office did not respond to the request for a statement.

Chuck Fleischmann – (R-TN03)

 Rep. Fleischmann’s office did not respond to the request for a statement.  He voted to defund via the CR and his office issued this statement after the vote.

Scott DesJarlais – (R-TN04)

While I normally oppose short-term government funding proposals, I am willing to support this legislation because it defunds the single greatest threat facing both our nation’s health care system and our economy – ObamaCare. The president’s health care law is an unmanageable disaster that will increase health care costs, restrict access to quality care and bankrupt our nation. It now is time for the Democratic-controlled Senate to hear the pleas of the American people and join House Republicans in defunding this law that should never have been passed in the first place.

After the vote, in which Representative DesJarlais voted to defund, he released this statement in addition to the one above.

Jim Tracy – (R Challenger for TN04)

 Senator Tracy’s office did not respond to the request for a statement.

Jim Cooper – (D-TN05)

 Rep. Cooper’s office did not respond to the request for a statement.

Bob Ries – (R Challenger for TN05)

 The last “true budget” passed by Congress was passed before “Obama Care”.  It has been kept in effect by a series of Continuing Resolutions  Therefore by passing another CR, all of the current departments would continue to be funded and the Government would continue to function normally without funding new expendatures such as Obama Care.  However, to ensure that Obama Care is not funded, I would attach a rider stating that no discretionary spending included in this CR could be spent to fund any portion of Obama Care,

Diane Black – (R-TN06)

 Rep. Black’s office did not respond to the request for a statement. She voted to defund via the CR and her office issued this statement after the vote.

Marsha Blackburn – (R-TN07)

 Rep. Blackburn’s office did not respond to the request for a statement. She voted to defund via the CR and her office issued this statement after the vote.

Stephen Fincher – (R-TN08)

 Rep. Fincher’s office did not respond to the request for a statement.

Steve Cohen – (D-TN09)

 Rep Cohen’s office did not respond to the request for a statement.