During the August recess, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) sounded a little embarrassed. Asked about the several dozen times he and his House GOP colleagues have voted on repealing the Affordable Care Act, the conservative lawmaker conceded there was no real point.
“Some people are beginning to ridicule us for that,” Fortenberry said. “To be honest, some of it is theatrics. You keep doing this over and over and over again and it doesn’t get anywhere.”
But the “theatrics” never seem to end. Last week, House Republicans put off actual work so they could vote for the 41st time to undermine “Obamacare.” Right-wing lawmakers are already looking forward to the 42nd, vowing this next time will be different.
…Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) is amped up about attempt number 42. He and other Tea Party lawmakers in the House are pushing GOP leaders to tie a vote to defund the Affordable Care Act to a must-pass, temporary spending bill aimed at keeping the government funded past Oct. 1, when current funding runs out. […]
“None of the other votes were on must-pass bills. They were on individual bills,” he told The Huffington Post, comparing the House’s past attempts to sink Obamacare to baseball. “We’ve had 42 different swings at the bat. Forty-two different exhibition games. But we’ve never actually had a regular season.”
Let’s be clear about what Huelskamp is arguing here. In effect, House Republicans said, “Can we gut Obamacare?” and the Senate and White House replied, “No.” So they tried again. And again. Forty times the House GOP thought these “theatrics” would make the party feel better about itself. Each time, they were aware of the eventual outcome, and in each instance they had better things to do with their time, but they just kept doing it.
But as Huelskamp noted, far-right lawmakers aren’t going to ask “Can we gut Obamacare?” this time. Instead, they’ll ask, “Will you meet our demands to gut Obamacare or do we have to start hurting the country on purpose?”
Indeed, for Huelskamp, there are now two “regular season” games. The first is the continuing resolution that will keep the government’s lights on, to be voted on sometime between now and the end of the month, and then again next month when the debt ceiling has to be raised.