The Hidden Danger for Republicans Lurking in the Budget Deal

Republicans who voted for the landmark budget deal — and even some who didn’t — could face heat for funding Obamacare.

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., reads from the Bible's book of Proverbs to the media, before a mock swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011.
National Journal
Alex Seitz-Wald
Jan. 18, 2014, 8:10 a.m.

Con­gress ap­proved its first reg­u­lar spend­ing bill in years this past week, in a move hailed by many as a re­turn to fisc­al san­ity. But there’s a po­ten­tial danger for Re­pub­lic­ans lurk­ing in the depths of the $1.1 tril­lion om­ni­bus ap­pro­pri­ation pack­age that sailed through both houses: Obama­care.

While the GOP man­aged to win some con­ces­sions on the Af­ford­able Care Act, con­ser­vat­ives see the spend­ing bill as “fund­ing Obama­care,” as Red­State wrote. It’s ba­sic­ally the same thing that Ted Cruz and oth­er con­ser­vat­ives blocked a few months ago, for­cing a gov­ern­ment shut­down, and Cruz tried again to rally sup­port for block­ing the spend­ing bill.

Tea-party and con­ser­vat­ive groups railed against the bill, while Her­it­age Ac­tion warned law­makers to vote against the pack­age, say­ing that “by con­tinu­ing to fund im­ple­ment­a­tion of Obama­care, the om­ni­bus bill would con­tin­ue to en­tangle tax­pay­er dol­lars in abor­tion cov­er­age.” The bill passed, of course, thanks in part to the les­son of Oc­to­ber.

But it could still cre­ate prob­lems for Re­pub­lic­ans who face primary chal­lenges from the right — in­clud­ing for some who didn’t even vote for the bill.

Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Jack King­ston is fa­cing a tough Sen­ate primary in Geor­gia, and he will face off Sat­urday night against his op­pon­ents in the first de­bate of the race. He also hap­pens to be the chair­man of the Ap­pro­pri­ations sub­com­mit­tee re­spons­ible for health care fund­ing.

In Decem­ber, he said he would use his post to “do everything we can to try to de­fund [Obama­care] or dis­mantle it,” telling Fox News: “I’m chair­ing the com­mit­tee that ac­tu­ally de­funds Obama­care.” He was so com­mit­ted that oth­er ap­pro­pri­at­ors wor­ried they’d have to work around him to get a bill done.

Of course, the bill that emerged from his sub­com­mit­tee and then passed both cham­bers did not de­fund Obama­care. King­ston voted against the om­ni­bus pack­age (in fact he was the only ap­pro­pri­at­or to do so), but re­tir­ing Demo­crat­ic Sen. Tom Har­kin of Iowa, King­ston’s coun­ter­part in the up­per cham­ber, was not go­ing to let King­ston wipe his hands clean.

On Thursday, Har­kin took to the Sen­ate floor to thank King­ston for his help. “I’m proud to have worked out a fair agree­ment with my rank­ing mem­ber, Sen­at­or Jerry Mor­an from Kan­sas, as well as with my col­leagues on the House side, in­clud­ing Chair­man Jack King­ston,” Har­kin said. “No one got 100 per­cent of what they wanted in this bill, which is of­ten a sign of prob­ably a pretty good deal.” Har­kin went on to praise the fact that the bill in­cludes sev­er­al bil­lion in fund­ing for pro­grams he in­ser­ted in the Af­ford­able Care Act.

The re­tir­ing Demo­crat was “stir­ring the pot ahead of first GOP Sen­ate de­bate,” the Atlanta Journ­al Con­sti­tu­tion‘s Greg Bluestein noted. “Hav­ing any fin­ger­prints on the spend­ing plan may not go over well with ul­tra-con­ser­vat­ives who the can­did­ates are try­ing to win over.”

King­ston, of course, is in a unique po­s­i­tion as chair­man of the com­mit­tee that over­sees health care spend­ing. But if his con­ser­vat­ive primary chal­lengers take the bait to­night, he prob­ably won’t be the last Re­pub­lic­an to face heat for fund­ing Obama­care in the budget.

That might be part of the reas­on why some Re­pub­lic­ans want to forgo a budget en­tirely next time around.

A spokes­man for King­ston’s cam­paign did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

What We're Following See More »
‘PULLING A TRUMP’
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Source:
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
1 days ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
22 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
THE LAST ROUND OF NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS
Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
×