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Holding the Line: The House Conservatives Driving the Obamacare Debate

From the libertarians to the veterans to the medical professionals, meet the group of lawmakers putting the pressure on Boehner.

by
Bill Straub

Bio

October 5, 2013 - 1:26 am
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WASHINGTON – Observers characterize them collectively as “the tail wagging the dog” – a loosely knit group of conservative lawmakers pushing an agenda aimed at pressuring President Obama and Senate Democrats to accept defunding or delay in implementation of the Affordable Care Act in return for support of a stopgap spending plan and, perhaps, raising the nation’s $16.7 trillion debt ceiling.

A relatively small cadre of Tea Party conservatives has somehow managed to tie Congress in knots, essentially forcing House Republicans to shut down the federal government until Obama and his allies acquiesce. It all started in August when 80 members signed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Republican Leader Eric Cantor, of Virginia, urging them to “affirmatively defund the implementation and enforcement of Obamacare in any relevant appropriations bill brought to the House floor in the 113th Congress, including any continuing appropriations bill.”

They have achieved their goal through sheer force of will, steamrolling Boehner, who wanted to keep the party’s powder dry on Obamacare until the looming debt limit fight, and in the face of a majority in the chamber that likely would support a temporary spending plan, known as a continuing resolution, with no strings attached.

Most group members, characterized by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) as “lemmings with suicide vests,” hail from the South or Southwest – Texas looks to be the prime breeding ground – and are relatively new to the Capitol – many are either in the first or second two-year terms.

Here’s a quick look at 25 of the folks who constitute the unstoppable force meeting, at least to this point, an unmovable object, based on information provided by THOMAS, the congressional website, Wikipedia, public statements and the members’ own websites.

THE YOUNG GUNS

Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), 42, of Garrison, second term, was the judge-executive of Lewis County before moving to Congress. He is a committed technocrat, having received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s Degree in mechanical engineering from MIT. During school, he invented a technology that enabled people to interact with computers using their sense of touch and leveraged that technology to found SensAble Technologies, Inc., which raised over $32 million of venture capital, created 70 jobs and obtained 24 patents. Massie has co-sponsored legislation favoring the legalization of industrial hemp and favors repealing federal gun-free zones in schools. He voted for Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) over Boehner in the 2013 leadership election. “I have a lot of IRS employees in my district and I spoke with them,” Massie told WFPL-FM, in Louisville. “They told me ‘look we’ve been through these shutdowns before. It’s not a big deal. We go home. We come back a few days or a week later, and we still get paid,’” says Massie. “And I can tell you the ones who have been through a shutdown before—the federal employees who have—tell me it’s just not that big of a deal and that they don’t know why the media is making such as big deal out of it.”

Tom Graves (R-Ga.), 43, of Ranger, third term, was a business owner prior to winning a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives. In Congress, he has voted to restrict abortion rights and access, supported ending all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, is opposed to a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and is against withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. Graves’ Defund Obamacare Act formed the basis of the provision introduced in the original continuing resolution that sought to halt all funding for the Affordable Care Act. “As it stands today, only Democrats are taking the all-or-nothing hardline position. Republicans have simply asked to negotiate for a fair funding bill, and until Democrats agree to talk, we will continue acting responsibly to fund the government.”

Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas), 44, of Fowler, second term, is a farmer and teacher and a budget and legislative analyst who attended seminary in Santa Fe. He was in the Kansas state Senate when he won his congressional seat. He was removed from the House Ways and Means Committee by Boehner last year for failing to cooperate with the GOP leadership. He nominated Jim Jordan to replace Boehner as speaker earlier this year. Huelskamp introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment in wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the federal government had to recognize same-sex marriages approved by the states. “We have been warned time and time again that Obamacare is not ready for prime time. Well, it turns out that is right. When I tried to sign up for the exchanges, I was met with error messages, unfinished security forms, and misspelled notices at every click. Seeing how poorly this has been implemented, I am surprised that Harry Reid and Senate Democrats are willing to shut down the government over a law that simply is unworkable, unaffordable, and increasingly unpopular.”

Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), 38, of Tulsa, first term, is a former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium and serves as an aviator in the U.S. Navy Reserve where he flies the E-2C Hawkeye in Central and South America as part of the War on Drugs. He is also a current state of Oklahoma record holder in swimming. In his first term, Bridenstine has verbally attacked Obama, stating that “the president’s dishonesty, incompetence, vengefulness and lack of moral compass lead many to suggest that he is not fit to lead” and rejected the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act, maintaining that “just because the Supreme Court rules on something doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s constitutional. What that means is that that’s what they decided on that particular day given the makeup of the Court on that particular day.” “The American people do not want Obamacare, and the representatives closest to them have voted not to spend the people’s money on it. If the Democrat-controlled Senate decides not to accept this, then it is their choice to shut down the government.”

Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), 35, of Ponta Vedra Beach, first term, is a Harvard Law School graduate who served in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps as a prosecutor, eventually working with incarcerated terrorists at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. He subsequently reported to the Naval Special Warfare Command Group in Coronado, Calif., where he was assigned to SEAL Team One and deployed to Iraq as a legal adviser to the SEAL commander in Fallujah. He offered an amendment to the continuing resolution, the James Madison Congressional Accountability Act, aimed at prohibiting the Obama administration from issuing special subsidies to members of Congress and congressional staff for use on the Obamacare exchanges. It passed the House but was removed in the Senate. ”I don’t believe we should be paid until this is resolved and I have requested that my pay be withheld.”

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Top Rated Comments   
Hats off to the House conservative-libertarian coalition. We may disagree among ourselves on some of the social issues, but our points of agreement and love of country far outweigh those differences.

Go git 'em boys & girls!
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment

We are planning a Tea Party Minute Man Gathering this weekend in Lexington and Concord at the national park that the administration has shut to score political points. Please help us to get the word out.

Where: Minute Man National Historic Park

When: Sunday October 6th at noon

Why: they have closed this heritage site to the public because of the government shutdown.....we will see about that!

Please get the word out!

Sincerely,

Paul Revere

28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Republican Congressmen are taking wire cutters to cut the wire strung around the WWIi Memorial in Washington meanwhile the callous, petty, small minded Democraps are even shutting the D day cemeteries in FRANCE and PRIVATELY run exhibits on Federal land. The Republicans passed bills to allow all these parks and memorials to remain open but the DEMOCRAPS refused to even negotiate.
Meanwhile the disgusting Incompetent Unqualified USURPER has got in to the act . He is offering to fund the opening of the MUSLIM MUSEUM. Whta more do you need to know about this scumbag America.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (66)
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my classmate's sister makes $67 hourly on the internet. She has been out of a job for 7 months but last month her income was $15962 just working on the internet for a few hours. image source----->
WWW.Rush64.COM
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ancient Quotes Describing Obama !

"A scoundrel and villain...plots evil with deceit in his heart - he always stirs up dissension. Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant."
"Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool - how much worse lying lips to a ruler!"
"It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury - how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!"
"The earth...cannot bear up [under] a servant who becomes king."
Are these quotes from Moses? Or Nostradamus? Or Shakespeare?
No, they are from the Book of Proverbs and are on the internet.
Although Obama isn't descended from slaves, he may feel he's destined to become a black-slavery avenger. (Google "The Background Obama Can't Cover Up.")
Or maybe an enslaver of all free citizens!
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
v
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm so glad you took the time to introduce the players to us. I'm thankkf ul for such an illustrious group of principled individuals who will not cave in.
God Bless you one and all, and keep the pressure on.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Lemmings? Even lemmings aren't "lemmings". They don't throw themselves off of cliffs and never have. All that was Disney bull$#!+. Suicide vests? Only Muslims wear suicide (homicide) vests.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I really doubt that this small group can hold several hundred other members "hostage". This is lazy repetition of a theme. Most of the republicans agree with some part of this and are eager for some leadership. And Boehner is shrewd enough to go along with this. He has cleaned obama's clock for the last few years, all the time being "pushed" into thse moves.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Boehner has a very tough job. If he listens to conservatives he may lose the moderates and vice-versa. I think the moderate Republican leadership finally got some backbone because they figured out moderates and conservatives are together on hating Obamacare.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
By definition a moderate cannot have a backbone.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
That is simply untrue and is the kind of thing that purists who've never had to actually get anythiing done in politics and government say. Most people are only, and barely, familiar with commercial negotiation in which one has either the classic willing buyer and willing seller, both seeking to do as well as they can, or one has someone who must obtain something or someone who must sell something. In the latter cases one party is severely disadvantaged by his need to make a bargain, but he nevertheless has the option to walk away and seek another buyer or seller, at least until desperation sets in.

In political negotiation, rarely does anybody have to do anything. If you're the spokesperson for a party or the advocate of a position within the adherents of a party, you first have to build something you can sell to your own side where each member or group will have interests ranging from doing nothing to perhaps the most extreme positions and everything in between. Your job is to get the compromise position within your own caucus that everyone from the do-nothing or get along, go along members to the most radical members will go along with. That makes you both a compromiser and a moderate, but it damned welll takes backbone to put those coalitions together and even more to keep them together. Boehner knows damned well that there are enough of his members who'd love to run screaming to the Democrats and he also knows the Democrats are actively courting them. I don't think the Democrats actually want a resolution yet, but I'll guarantee you there are Democrats carrying chit sheets and counting Republicans that would bolt the Majority Caucus and vote with the Democrats. Boehner has to keep them not just on his side but in his caucus. I'll guarantee you that had the conservatives persisted in the defund ObamaCare or the wall position, the majority would have crumbled. Fortunately, the conservative leadership were smarter than you seem to be and moderated their position in order to keep everybody on the reservation.

I've seen a literal coup in a legislative session in which a cohort from the other party recruited members of the majority caucus to bolt the then majority and come over to form a new majority with a speaker from the other party; it was dramatic. That was over thirty years ago and the party that lost its majority in that coup has never held the majority since, not even close.

I think Boehner is too cautious and I think the Republican leadership as a whole still hasn't really grasped that the Democrats are not just another group of guys and gals that happen to represent different constituencies. Too many Republcans at all levels of government still have the "Getting to Yes" mentality about political negotiation but it simply doesn't work with modern Democrats who won't bargain in good faith and won't keep a bargain unless it is enforced by force. You don't bargain with them, you impose you position on them. That takes skill and courage.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think a number of folks confuse backbone with ideological fervor. Moderates typically are much more passionate about problem solving than ideology. Boehner’s problem is trying to keep oil and vinegar mixed long enough to win an election. His initial responses to a conservative push to do more tell me he is far more passionate about holding Republicans together and winning the next election than he is about symbolic efforts to stop Obamacare.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
American subversive [troll].
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think you are reading too much into my comment about the “symbolic” attempt to shutdown Obamacare. I do not want Obamacare personally and I think it will eventually ruin healthcare as it has already hurt the economy. That said, the way to get rid of it is to get the Democrats out of the Senate and White House for they will let the country go over the cliff before repealing it. There is no chance getting it defunded before that happens and you might as well kill it if you get the Democrats out of the way. 90% of its funding is mandatory so shutting down the government by not approving spending or raising the debt limit will only make it a bit harder to implement. It will not stop it and I assume we both want it stopped. This effort will only succeed in risking the next elections for the Republicans which is what is needed to kill Obamacare.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
What makes you think this one is a troll, s/he posted something you disagree with? Why don't I ever see you going toe to toe with General Tso, Bill Western, or some of the known and obvious trolls?
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
American [as if most of us weren't] Moderate:
"His initial responses to a conservative push to do more tell me he is far more passionate about holding Republicans together and winning the next election than he is about symbolic efforts to stop Obamacare."

So the conservative effort to stop Obamacare is at best symbolic? Is that your view too, Art?
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Cruz/Conservative effort depends ENTIRELY on forceing the guy who has all the cards to fold. That is a serious mind game that you'd best be damned good to play. As I've said in several other posts, we're about to see if Sen. Cruz is as good as he thinks he is.

I've thought through the strategies of how to deal with a public employee union's "virtual strike," which is essentially what the Administration is running. Winning depends entirely on you being able to stand the pain better than they can and your being willing to inflict more pain than they can. All my planning was predicated on my legal ability to lock out the whole workforce and make them all feel the pain. The analog in this situation is that the House Republicans really do pull down the columns with the debt limit. You a betting man?
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bet on politics? Hell no. The low info voters make politics pure luck with low odds like roulette instead of poker in which skill has some influence on the outcome.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
You misstate the argument. Any effort to derail Obamacare that has the Senate or White House in Democratic hands is symbolic only. The conservative and moderate effort to stop Obamacare becomes real rather than symbolic if they take back the government.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just for you, my good friend Art:

"Rick: "...This is the writer overlaying a template on Zimmerman that isn’t even a caricature of the truth..."

Well said. One special falsehood keeps popping up. Juan Williams was published yesterday saying that Zimmerman was told by the operator on the telephone to not follow Martin. This is not true. That operator said "We don't need you to do that [follow Martin]"

If your wife says, "I don't need you to do that, General [FB, TSO] (wipe the dishes)," is that the same as saying, "Don't wipe those dishes, Genera [FB, Tso]"? Of course not, yet this keeps being incorrectly said all over the media, including by many of even the good folks at Fox News.
12 weeks ago Reply Like (1) Report Abuse Link To Comment
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
OK, that's one.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you for the defense sir. I have registered at Liberal, Moderate, and Conservative blogs this week and I am indeed a moderate.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's easy to have "ideological fervor" and maintain purity when it isn't your name on the door. I've dealt with a lot of "nice guy" Republicans over the years. It is amazing what direct contact and conflict with modern Democrats does to them. Most Democrats that can get elected outside the Bluest places can at least maintain a pleasant, almost human, facade for awhile. But even those who are good at maintaining the facade let it slip from time to time, e.g., Comrade Obama, and when they are pushed into open conflict, they drop the mask alltogether and unleash the horns, fangs, and claws. Even the nicest Rotary Club Republican who has dealt with a Democrat in full a**hole mode stops referring to them as his "friends across the aisle."
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
There are 80 critical members but I'm only going to mention 25.

Why the deliberate partial information? Why not at least list the ones you don't profile? If these 25 were the only ones, they wouldn't matter. The other 55 are as important.




28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Most group members, characterized by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) as “lemmings with suicide vests,”...

This is part of the reason why the Republican Party in California is so pathetic.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
All this reminds me about that girl in the snow saying-like a true commander: don't retreat, reload!
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
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