Holding the Line: The House Conservatives Driving the Obamacare Debate

THE GRIZZLED VETERANS

Steve King (R-Iowa), 64, of Kiron, sixth term, left college to work in construction and founded King Construction, an earth-moving company, in 1975. He founded the Kiron Business Association in the 1980s and became interested in politics, winning a seat in the Iowa state Senate before moving to Congress. An outspoken social and fiscal conservative, King has attracted substantial controversy. Speaking about immigration reform, he said, “For every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” When Obama ran for president in 2008, he said, “I will tell you that, if he is elected president, then the radical Islamists, the al-Qaeda, the radical Islamists and their supporters, will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11.” “House Republicans do not want a government shutdown," said King. "We want a resolution reflective of the needs and priorities of the American people. The government is temporarily and partially shut down nonetheless, but the House has consistently put offers on the table and the Senate has repeatedly refused to negotiate.”

Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), 60, of Tyler, fifth term, earned a law degree from Baylor Law School and served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corp primarily as a defense attorney before returning to his native Texas where he was elected as a state district judge in Smith County. Gov. Rick Perry subsequently appointed him to serve as chief justice on Texas's 12th Court of Appeals. Gohmert generally is recognized as one of the most conservative members of Congress. He proposed a federal income tax holiday allowing taxpayers to decide how best to spend their hard-earned money. He has repeatedly called for an end to the “socialization” of the nation’s economy. “I could not in good faith vote for a bill that provides even more funding for Obamacare when I have heard from massive numbers of constituents about the damage it is doing. I will continue to listen to the people of my district, but the hue and cry is overwhelmingly from those who have lost insurance, had insurance costs become prohibitive, lost jobs, or have been moved from full-time employment to part-time because of Obamacare.”

Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), 57, of Stillwater, fourth term, is the onetime GOP presidential contender and tax lawyer who formerly worked for the Internal Revenue Service. She and her husband now own a Christian counseling practice titled Bachmann & Associates. A former Democrat who became disillusioned during the administration of President Jimmy Carter, Bachmann is a longtime conservative political activist who was involved in the anti-abortion movement when she was elected to the Minnesota state Senate. As one of the country’s best known Tea Party politicians – Bachmann founded the House Tea Party Caucus -- she has continued to oppose abortion, proved skeptical about global warming, advocated for increased domestic oil and natural gas exploration, called for lawsuit reform and introduced the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act. She has also become one of the most vocal congressional critics of Obamacare; she immediately joined with Rep. Steve King to propose repeal legislation. Bachmann has announced she will not seek re-election. She is under investigation from a number of agencies, including the Federal Election Commission, for alleged campaign finance violations during her 2012 campaign for president. "As the implementation of Obamacare comes into effect, the American people are worried and uncertain about the future of their healthcare coverage. Every day my office is flooded with phone calls, emails, Facebook posts and tweets from Americans who are deeply concerned about the negative impact of Obamacare on their families, their jobs, their healthcare, and their small businesses.”

Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), 61, of Brentwood, fifth term, is a longtime Republican activist – she helped found the Williamson County Young Republicans in 1977 – who worked in retail marketing before assuming a seat in the Tennessee state Senate where she was credited as a “hero” for her participation in the so-called Great Tennessee Tax Revolt of 2000, rallying support against a state income tax proposal. She has long been involved in the healthcare reform debate, the choice of the House Republican leadership in February 2010 to represent conservative views on health care reform at President Obama’s Blair House summit. She reacted to passage of the Affordable Care Act by saying, “freedom dies a little bit today.” “From all of my listening sessions and meetings throughout the district, the one thing that concerns Tennesseans most is the negative impact the implementation of Obamacare is having on their lives. From labor unions to national advocacy groups, we are hearing both locally and nationwide that there are serious questions about President Obama's Affordable Care Act.  It isn't ready for primetime. That's why I'm continuing to work to delay, defund, repeal, and replace it with patient-centered, market-driven healthcare reform.”