Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Friday September 20th, 2013, 5:32pm

U.S. Reps. Andrews, Van Hollen Slam Republicans Over Vote To Defund ObamaCare

With the threat of a government shut down just days away, U.S. Reps. Rob Andrews (D, NJ-1) and Chris Van Hollen (D, MD-8) blasted House Republicans on Friday for voting for a short-term spending bill that also defunds ObamaCare.

“There’s not a soul who thinks that the bill that passed today has any chance of becoming law,” Andrews said on a conference call with reporters. “Not Ted Cruz. Not John Boehner. Not Eric Cantor. No one. Every understands this was just an exercise in futility.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has made it clear that the House’s spending bill, which passed by a 230-189 vote, is dead on arrival in the Senate. Reid is expected to strip the language calling for the defunding of ObamaCare out of the bill and send a “clean” spending package back to the House.

Congress has to come to an agreement on a continuing resolution to fund the government by no later than September 30, the end of the fiscal year, in order to prevent a government shutdown.

During a speech Friday at a Ford plant a few hours after the House vote, President Barack Obama told some 2,000 workers that "a faction on the far right" is "willing to plunge America into default" if the health care law is not defunded.

"They're not focused on you," the president said to the workers. "They're focused on politics. They're focused on trying to mess with me."

While talking with reporters, Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, called out House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH,8) for “handing the gavel of the people’s House over to the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party that are now driving the show.”

He also noted that House Democrats have put forward an alternative spending package, but were denied an opportunity to vote on it eight times. The measure would have replaced the sequester for fiscal year 2014 and funded the government through November 15 at a $1.058 trillion spending level.

And meanwhile, “we’ve not seen one single plan from our Republican colleagues to replace the sequester,” Van Hollen said.

After Friday’s vote, Boehner told a cheering room of Republican lawmakers that “It’s time for us to say no,” referring to the health law.

“It’s time to stop this before it causes any more damage to American families and American businesses,” he continued. “Our message to the United States Senate is very simple: The American people don’t want the government shut down, and they don’t want ObamaCare, The House has listened to the American people. Now it’s time for the United States Senate to listen to them as well.”

Van Hollen fired back at the argument that Americans don't want ObamaCare, saying Republicans are blatantly ignoring the fact  that millions of Americans are already benefiting from the health care reform law. Millions of children with preexisting conditions, for example, are not being discriminated against by insurance companies, he stressed.

“The Republican message is: You know what? If you don’t expose these kids to discrimination by insurance companies, we’re going to shut down the government. If you don’t deny seniors the benefits of the additional prescription drug coverage offered by ObamaCare, we’re going to shut down the government,” he continued.

Friday also marked the 42nd time the House voted to nix the Affordable Care Act. Andrews likened the Republicans’ efforts to the move Fatal Attraction.

“This is an obsession,” Andrews said. “This is not just about debating the health care bill, this is an obsession, and if it were simply an obsession ruining the Republican Party so be it ... but this threatens to ruin the U.S. economy. It threatens to put people out of work. To slow down the progress the American people work so hard to make, and it simply makes no sense.”

If the government does shut down, that means federal employees won’t receive a paycheck and federal contractors would have to slow down or stop work altogether, Andrews said. As such, businesses that rely on federal services won’t be able to proceed with their operations.

“This doesn’t just shut the government down, it shuts the economy down,” he stressed.

Image: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

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