A new push by a group of conservative U.S. lawmakers to strip Obamacare of funding has some clamoring for U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski to take a more active role against the health care overhaul.
The GOP lawmaker, like many Republicans, has long spoken out against President Obama’s health care plan, and her office issued a statement Wednesday, Aug. 14, reiterating her view. Walorski even signed on to a letter penned by U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., related to the push, as sought by the Obamacare critics, notably FreedomWorks, a conservative Washington, D.C-based group.
“Congresswoman Walorski has supported a variety of legislation to dismantle Obamacare, including voting for the full repeal of the entire law and co-sponsoring a bill to defund Obamacare,” Walorski spokeswoman Elizabeth Guyton said in a statement.
Still, those behind the new push against Obamacare — touting a strategy that could lead to a federal government shutdown — aren’t letting up. They’re planning a rally on Thursday outside Walorski’s Mishawaka office to prod her on the issue and to push her to hold more public meetings during the congressional recess this month.
The meetings, argues Greg Fettig, Midwest regional coordinator for FreedomWorks, are meant to give constituents a chance to quiz their representatives and get the lawmakers to publicly state their views on the Obamacare issue. FreedomWorks is calling for town hall meetings by U.S. lawmakers all across the nation during the August recess.
“It’s a good start,” Fettig said of Walorski’s announcement Wednesday that she plans to hold a town hall meeting on Aug. 21 in Rochester, with more to come. “It’s not enough.”
GOP House leaders, including U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, have balked at the Meadows- and FreedomWorks-backed strategy, Fettig said, and he’s skeptical that Walorski, in the end, will buck the Republican leadership. He wants her to publicly state she’ll do everything she can to de-fund Obamacare, said Fettig, who’s based in Noblesville.
“All we’re asking for is a direct answer from Jackie,” said Ty Bancroft, a South Bend businessman who backed Walorski in her 2012 bid for office but now questions her GOP credentials. “Are you willing to do what needs to be done?”
As Bancroft, Fettig and others see it, the current push to strip funding from the Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is formally known, is the last chance to halt the controversial measure from irrevocably becoming law. Reps from the Libertarian Party of Indiana, including Walorski’s Libertarian opponent in the 2012 race, Joe Ruiz of Mishawaka, plan to take part in Thursday’s rally, set to start at noon at Walorski’s district office.
‘POTENTIAL TO DESTROY AMERICA’
The Meadows and FreedomWorks strategy calls on the GOP-led House to craft a federal spending plan that strips the Affordable Care Act of funding. The Democrat-led Senate would likely turn back any such measure, possibly leading to a federal government shutdown.
The Democrats would be viewed as responsible for the shutdown, as Fettig sees it — “That’s on them, not on the Republicans” — and the turn of events would create leverage for the anti-Obamacare push. The aim isn’t a government shutdown, Fettig said, just the end to a law that “has potential to destroy America.”
In contrast, GOP leaders like Boehner have called for more targeted strikes against specific provisions of the Affordable Care Act, according to the National Review. Such a strategy “is achievable,” Boehner said, according to the publication. “And it’s our best shot at actually getting rid of Obamacare.”
NOT CONSERVATIVE ENOUGH?
Amid it all, Bancroft hinted at rumblings among some that Walorski has strayed from her conservative, GOP roots. He suggested she’s becoming what some conservatives derisively call a RINO — a Republican in name only.
“I just don’t understand how she’s become this,” Bancroft said.
Aside from the Obamacare issue, he cited her vote against a measure meant to halt a controversial National Security Agency data and intelligence gathering program, viewed as an invasion of privacy by some. The so-called Amash amendment, named for its author, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan, failed, though another, related measure — seen as watered-down by critics — did overwhelmingly pass, with Walorski’s backing.
Taken together, Bancroft said it could be enough to spur recruitment of a Republican to challenge Walorski next year in the primary race for her 2nd District post. “She’s not representing us anymore,” Bancroft said. “She’s representing Washington, D.C., and that is the problem.”
He’s not lost all hope, though. Town hall meetings could serve to turn things around. “Hopefully we can give her a little direction and point her in the right direction,” Bancroft said.
Meanwhile, Pete Recchio, a tea party conservative from Elkhart County, expressed unwavering support for Walorski. Her opposition to the Affordable Care Act, he said, has been consistent and steadfast.
“Our district couldn’t have a more honest, honorable and dedicated servant as Jackie Walorski,” Recchio said. “Our district couldn’t — and never will — have representation by anyone better than Jackie Walorski.”