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Angus King lashes out at conservative Republicans

Angus King

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Angus King lashed out at senate Republicans on Friday for their attempts to block further implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, by defunding the law in the current budget resolution. The budget resolution, which included no funding for Obamacare, passed the U.S. House of Representatives early Friday by a 230-189 vote.

“A lot’s happening in DC, but I want to talk about something that’s not: the budget,” King said in a short YouTube video.

The visibly upset King blasted his Republican colleagues whom he said were not only trying to defund Obamacare, but were seeking to shut down the federal government as a “kind of success.”

The junior senator from Maine, who is not formally enrolled in any party but votes and caucuses with Democrats, was presumably referring to Republican firebrand Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Mike Lee of Utah – all of whom have expressed an interest in defunding or repealing the president’s controversial health care law.

Cruz said Friday that Republican senators should unify against any attempt by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to reinsert funding for Obamacare. The Tea Party darling told Roll Call: ““Step two is the Senate, where all accounts suggest Harry Reid plans to use procedural gimmicks to try to add funding back in for Obamacare… If Reid pursues this plan — if he insists on using a 50-vote threshold to fund Obamacare with a partisan vote of only Democrats — then I hope that every Senate Republican will stand together and oppose cloture on the bill in order to keep the House bill intact and not let Harry Reid add Obamacare funding back in.”

“As you know, a lot of the issue is revolving around the Republicans’ desire to defund the Affordable Care Act — so-called Obamacare. That’s a non-starter for the president. It’s a non-starter with the Democratically-controlled senate,” said King.

“I think you have to focus on the fact that there is this small group of people who not only don’t want to fund Obamacare, they really don’t want the government to work. And, to them, a shutdown is a kind of success,” said King.

King said it was Republicans – not Democrats or President Obama – who are threatening to throw the federal government into default, something that may happen in mid-October if Congress does not pass a continuing resolution before Sept. 30. This, however, assumes that the government can only be funded with Obamacare.

Republicans have said the decision to default rest squarely on Democrats’ shoulders. If Majority Democrats in the Senate choose to reinsert funding for Obamacare into the budget resolution and send it back to the House, however, GOP representatives will have a tough time avoiding blame for a government shutdown. Only two Democrats joined House Republicans in voting to defund Obamacare.

President Obama, who failed to pass even a single budget during his first term in office, has said repeatedly that he will not negotiate with Republicans over the debt ceiling.

House Speaker John Boehner called the vote a “victory for common sense.”

Earlier in the week, Boehner jibed Obama over the perplexing difference in his willingness to negotiate with Russian President Vladamir Putin, on the one hand, and his unwillingness to talk with Republicans about the debt ceiling.

S.E. Robinson
Maine Wire Reporter

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