Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr certainly hit the nail squarely on the head recently when he said an effort to to shut down the federal government unless President Barack Obama’s health care law is defunded is the “dumbest idea” he’s ever heard of.
Tea Party members of Congress are threatening to block a continuing resolution that would keep the federal government operating beyond Sept. 30 if it includes funding for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Oct. 1 is the start of the fiscal year and the launch date for open enrollment under the health care law. It’s also the date when health insurance exchanges will begin to help people find and buy insurance coverage. If Congress doesn’t pass a temporary resolution funding the government or adopt year-long spending bills to fund federal agencies, then a shutdown would occur.
Burr has come under fire for his sensible approach to the shutdown threat. The Senate Conservative Fund, a political action committee, took out ads attacking him and other Southern Republican senators who oppose risking a government shutdown. The ads don’t mention that Burr and the others want to do away with the law.
Burr voted against the health care law but is wise enough to know that shutting down the government is not a feasible option for repealing it. The Democratically-controlled U.S. Senate would not sign off on any U.S. House measure to defund the Affordable Care Act, and the president would never sign such a measure into law.
As Burr succinctly put it, “as long as Barack Obama is president, the Affordable Care Act is going to be law.”
The senator also pointed out that he was in Congress when Republicans paid a price with voters for shutting down the government in 1995 during a budget impasse with President Bill Clinton. The architect of that government shutdown strategy, Newt Gingrich, also is advising his fellow Republican against the idea.
Members of Congress have plenty of important work on their agenda when they return from their summer recess. Playing political games with serious fiscal matters just smacks of pure partisan pettiness.
House Republicans have wasted enough time with their Quixotic efforts to repeal the health care law – voting more than 40 times to do so during the the past few years while knowing full well that the Senate would never take up any of the measures they passed.
It’s past time for the GOP to face reality and move on to something they can actually accomplish for the good of the country.