US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Ebola in West Africa: A Global Challenge and Public Health Threat

Alexander Votes to Defund Obamacare

Says “bill is now back in the hands of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives”

Friday, September 27, 2013Liz Wolgemuth 202-228-4729

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“I’m not in the shut-down-the-government crowd, I’m in the take-over-the-government crowd. Take it over the way the Constitution says: Elect more conservative senators and a president and do all we can to delay, dismantle, repeal and replace Obamacare.” – Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today voted to defund Obamacare and then voted against sending back to the U.S. House of Representatives a resolution that funds the government without defunding the new health care law. The senate Democratic majority nevertheless sent the resolution back for consideration by the House of Representatives, which has a Republican majority.

 “The bill is now back in the hands of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. I support the original House legislation that continues funding the government but defunds Obamacare,” Alexander said.  “The health care law is an historic mistake that should be delayed, dismantled, repealed and replaced.”

During the week, Alexander also voted for two procedural motions (called “cloture”) on whether to cut off debate about the health care law. The first cloture vote passed 100-0; the second passed 79-19. If either of these cloture votes had failed, the government would have shut down Monday at midnight, Alexander said.  

Alexander continued, “I’m not in the shut-down-the-government crowd, I’m in the take-over-the-government crowd. Take it over the way the Constitution says: Elect more conservative senators and a president and do all we can to delay, dismantle, repeal and replace Obamacare.

“Shutting the government down would delay paychecks to 3.4 million active-duty military men and women, delay processing permits for gun owners, delay Social Security payments and delay air travel for 2 million daily fliers — but Obamacare would just keep going because the president has the authority to do that under the law.

“In the mid-90s, the last time the government shut down, it lasted only a few days. The uproar was so great that congressmen couldn’t get back to Washington fast enough to start the government back up again. The shutdown cost taxpayers $1.4 billion. Republicans were blamed and President Clinton was re-elected.”

On the senate floor this week, Alexander also told the story of “two Tennesseans who went to Texas, Sam Houston and Davy Crockett. Both were brave men who used different tactics to fight for the same goal: Texas independence. Crockett died at the Alamo. Houston withdrew to San Jacinto, where he won the war of Texas Independence.” 

“I’m in General Sam Houston’s camp on this one,” Alexander said. “Sometimes patience is a tactic that is useful in winning a war.”

Also in Senate floor remarks this week, Alexander urged the Senate to adopt legislation by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to “delay, dismantle, repeal and replace” Obamacare. (To see Alexander’s speech, CLICK HERE.)

Alexander said that in order to gain the trust of the American people, Republicans should continue to offer a step-by-step agenda to replace Obamacare with health care laws that offer more choices and competition and actually reduce premiums for most Americans.  

  1. Make Medicare solvent, so seniors can depend on it to be there for them and their grandchildren.
  2. Give governors more flexibility with their state Medicaid programs, so they can lower costs, improve health outcomes, and have more money for other programs like education and roads.
  3. Repeal the medical device tax that increases costs for patients.
  4. Change the definition of “work week” from 30 hours to 40 hours under Obamacare, or any new health care law, which would give employees the opportunity for a 33 percent pay increase and more options for health care coverage.
  5. Strengthen innovative workplace wellness programs that empower employees with more incentives to make healthy lifestyle choices.
  6. Let small businesses pool their resources and offer lower-cost insurance plans for their employees.
  7. Provide families the opportunity to purchase insurance across state lines, creating greater competition between insurance companies and lowering premiums for everyone. 
  8. Expand access to Health Savings Accounts and catastrophic health insurance plans, giving people more affordable insurance options that fit their lifestyles.
  9. Incentivize the growth of private health insurance exchanges to give consumers expanded health insurance choices and allow them to keep insurance between jobs.
  10. Make it easier for patients to compare prices and the quality of doctors and medical services. 
  11. Incentivize states to reform junk lawsuits that drive up health care costs for everyone and are driving medical professionals out of their profession.

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