That hasn’t stopped House Republicans from doing our job. Prior to the shutdown, we passed, with bipartisan support, three separate pieces of legislation to fund the federal government. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats voted strictly along party lines to prevent even debating these bills. Since the shutdown began, we have passed multiple pieces of legislation to restore funding for government services like veterans assistance, FEMA, nutrition assistance, life-saving cancer trials, keeping our parks and museums open and pay for our troops. All received bipartisan support, but only the military pay bill was adopted by the Senate and signed by the president.
There is really no excuse for the Democrat majority in Washington to continue adhering to a completely irrational and unproductive position in which they will not negotiate, will not compromise and will not even pretend to have any interest in solving the challenges before us. Their inaction is the truest obstructionism.
But Washington is no stranger to government shutdowns. During the Reagan Administration, Speaker Tip O’Neill, a Democrat, shut down the government 12 times. In fact, he once shut down the government simply because he was unhappy that the FCC overturned the Fairness Doctrine, a nearly four decades-old policy that mandated broadcast standards.
There is a real difference between a temper tantrum over the Fairness Doctrine and standing firm on behalf of the majority of the American people who want a delay, if not full repeal, of Obamacare. This disastrous law is destructive to the health of our nation and its citizenry.
And President Obama obviously agrees. Even though he lacks the authority, he has already unilaterally waived nearly a third of the law, carved out special exemptions for big business and his political allies, protected Congress by giving them subsidies and delayed significant portions of Obamacare.
So why not a delay of Obamacare for everyone? If this law isn’t good enough for the President’s political pals, special interests or big business, it’s certainly not good enough for the American people. All Republicans want is fairness for all Americans, and that’s why we fight.
We fight so American families whose budgets are already stretched too thin in a weakened economy are not burdened with higher premiums and restricted access to quality health care. We fight so that doctors, nurses and medical innovators can continue to provide the care that improves, enhances and even saves lives. We fight so that fewer Americans are forced into part-time work or onto the unemployment rolls because employers cannot grow or merely survive because of this takeover of health care. We fight because we know there are ideas rooted in compassionate care that put families, patients and doctors in charge of health care, not Washington.
The fight over the continuing resolution is about more than funding the government — a basic congressional obligation we have sought to honor time and time again with no cooperation from Senate Democrats. It is, instead, about priorities. Republicans want to keep the government open. But the American people have demanded a repeal or significant changes to Obamacare, and so, too, are we obligated to heed their will.
Rep. Tom Price, M.D., represents Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. He is the vice chairman of the House Committee on the Budget. He is also a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, as well as the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. An orthopaedic surgeon, he spent more than 20 years caring for patients in the metro Atlanta area. For three Congresses, he has authored and proposed an alternative to Obamacare, the Empowering Patients First Act.