The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday (Sept. 20) passed House Joint Resolution 59, which will continue funding the government for another three months but with one provision - it would defund the Affordable Care Act.
The nearly $1 trillion continuing resolution, which passed the House by a vote of 230-189, now goes to the Senate for consideration, though there are serious doubts about whether the bill in its current form will even make it to a full vote in the Democratic-controlled chamber before being changed.
Today's House vote — 228 for passage and 189 against – comes just 10 days before what could be a government shutdown if a continuing resolution is not passed by both bodies and signed into law.
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, praised the vote and the actions of his House colleagues today, calling the vote "in the best interest of Third District Arkansas and the country."
"I am proud to have joined my colleagues in the House to do what is in the best interest of Third District Arkansans and the country: vote to keep the government open and defund Obamacare. It’s now up to Senator Cruz, Senator Lee, and the other Senate Republicans to hold the line. If Senator Reid replaces this responsible spending bill with legislation that increases taxes, adds to our deficit and debt, and continues to fund Obamacare, Americans will be worse off, and I will continue to act in the best interest of my constituents."
Womack's support of the effort to defund Obamacare reflect a change his position on injecting the issue of Obamacare into the continuing resolution vote. He said in early September that pushing the threat of a government shutdown, as is possible with today’s vote, was not the right route for Republicans to take.
During a Sept. 5 town hall event in Fort Smith, he laid out his case against defunding Obamacare through the use of the continuing resolution.
"While I support every effort that's made to defund, replace … to stop this train wreck called Obamacare, I think our party has to be very wise to the potential political outcomes in 2014 if we force the government to shut down. … (In order to accomplish our legislative goals), we really need that body that's at the other end of the capital from our end - the U.S. Senate. And the difference in power right now is six votes, six seats. And there will be a half a dozen seats that will be up for election that are held by the other party that we feel very confident that we can compete in. But we have no margin for error. We have to have them all. As you know, Arkansans are going to get an opportunity to vote on this one. They didn't in '12. But we do in '14 and it's one of the six I'm talking about."
U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, also voted for the continuing resolution, stating that he was voting in lock-step with the people of Arkansas.
"Today the House voted to keep the government funded into the next fiscal year and to stop Obamacare in its tracks. Arkansans overwhelmingly oppose Obamacare and their voices must be heard. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to act responsibly and pass this legislation."
Cotton, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in his bid for a third term in the Senate next year, was immediately attacked by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for his vote.
“Tom Cotton should be ashamed of his recklessness and partisanship that was on full display today,” said Justin Barasky, a spokesman at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “Cotton obviously doesn’t care about the devastating consequences his vote will cause for the economy, jobs, small businesses, seniors, students, and military families. Arkansans don’t deserve the despicable recklessness and irresponsibility championed by Tom Cotton today.”
For his part, Pryor did not go after Cotton directly, but called the House vote irresponsible.
"Today’s vote in the House of Representatives to shut down the government is irresponsible and will hurt our economy just at a time when it is beginning to turn the corner. Next week, when the real work begins in the Senate, I will work in a constructive way to keep the government open and keep our economy growing."
U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, and Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, also voted for the continuing resolution.