“I hope I don’t get skin cancer out here!” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., exclaimed to the few hundred people assembled in front of the Capitol on Tuesday afternoon. “Can you imagine the line?”
He was talking about the Affordable Care Act. And the line was for healthcare. Crowd members laughed as they fanned themselves with folded “Exempt America” signs depicting the American flag. People were seated in collapsible chairs, some holding umbrellas to block the strong sun, as Paul railed against Obamacare to a committed and vocal crowd.
“Anyone here want to wait a year for their gall bladder to come out?” “No!”
“How about we defund the whole damn thing?” “Defund!”
The Exempt America From Obamacare rally was the latest attempt by tea-party groups and some lawmakers to reinvigorate their calls for Congress to reject a continuing resolution at the end of this month that would include funding for the health care law.
The plan to threaten a government shutdown over Obamacare is generally considered to have been a failure. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced a new strategy Tuesday that will involve House Republicans demanding a one-year delay to the law in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.
Yet the relatively small crowd at the rally was energized and committed to the cause, and event organizers and speakers remained optimistic. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a leading force in the defund-Obamacare movement, came to the stage to chants of “Run, Ted, Run!” from the crowd.
“If traditional rules of Washington apply, we can’t win,” Cruz said. “But I’m convinced the model has changed. There is a brand-new model in America, and that is the rise of the grassroots.”
The cofounder of Tea Party Patriots, Jenny Beth Martin, was on a similar page. She said that the event — organized in collaboration with other tea-party organizations, including Heritage Action, FreedomWorks, Citizens United, and others — was about getting their message out to Congress and the public.
“We’re not going away,” Martin told National Journal Daily. “We never wanted [Obamacare] to be passed, and we’ll continue to fight for freedom.” Should Congress vote this week to keep funding the health care law in the continuing resolution, Martin said the fight will be far from over. “We’ll continue having events, making phone calls to Congress, and recruiting new candidates.”
The movement’s local, grassroots approach was evident in the crowd. Bob Mason, 73, came on a bus from North Carolina. Dressed in royal-blue colonial attire and carrying a large American flag over his shoulder, Mason left his home at 9 p.m. Monday and was to return at 4 a.m. Wednesday. “[The law] is the worst thing that could happen to America,” he said. “Obamacare is responsible for killing jobs.”
Leaders maintain that the defunding movement is not losing steam, despite limited support from lawmakers and the public. “It’s gonna be successful,” said former presidential candidate Herman Cain, who spoke at the rally.
Other speakers included Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.; Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla.; and James Golden — the Rush Limbaugh talk-show producer and personality.
What We're Following See More »
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
"The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security. The bipartisan measure passed easily by a vote of 386-41, with nine Republicans and 32 Democrats voting in opposition. If the bill makes it through the Senate, it would be the first-ever reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since it was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." Among the provisions it contains is a mandate that the Senate confirm the Secret Service director. It also boosts funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative by $195 million per year.
In remarks scheduled to be delivered today at the American Federation of Teachers' summer conference, President Randi Weingarten "likens U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to a climate-change denier" and "says the Trump administration's school choice plans are secretly intended to starve funding from public schools. She calls taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, tuition tax credits and the like 'only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.'" The pro-voucher Center for Education Reform said teachers should "consider inviting Weingarten’s resignation."
"President Trump has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, despite his criticism of the Justice Department head's decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe, the White House said Thursday. 'Clearly he has confidence in him or he would not be the attorney general,' spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at an off-camera briefing."
"The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Trump administration for records on an executive order President Trump reportedly planned to release targeting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday, ACLU claimed the departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, Labor, and Treasury violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to release the records it requested on the reported draft order."