Rep. Patrick McHenry’s vote to tie federal government operations to a bill that defunds the Affordable Care Act is catching heat from local activists.
Supporters of the health care law, commonly known as “Obamacare,” plan to rally at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 26, at the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville. In a Facebook message promoting the event, organizers with the Protect Your Care group, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the health care law, assert: “Despite dismissing a government shutdown to defund Obamacare in his town halls, Congressman McHenry toed the tea party line on Friday [Sept. 20], voting to put the country at risk in his appeasement to zealots obsessed with sabotaging the Affordable Care Act.”
The call to action continues: “Join former Congressman Bob Etheridge, and team of great speakers as we raise our voices in opposition to his recklessness, and his determined disinterest in the wishes of his constituents. Bring a cheap pair of flip-flops with your complaints written on the bottoms. Let’s give this man some SOLE!”
The 10th District McHenry represents includes most of Asheville, and at an Aug. 7 town hall meeting in Swannanoa, the Republican legislator told attendees that he didn’t think linking Obamacare to a government shutdown was “the best strategy.” He added: “I want to defund Obamacare, I want to repeal the policy, and put in better health care policy.”
In a video produced by Protect Your Care that lambasts McHenry for “flip-flopping” on the issue, an attendee at another town hall in the Western North Carolina district asks him: “Will you vote to shut down the government in order to defund the Affordable Care Act? Yes or No?” McHenry responds “No.”
Watch the video here embedded via YouTube:
On Sept. 20, McHenry voted for a bill that will only fund government operations for the next fiscal year if all funding to implement Obamacare is eliminated. It passed the U.S. House that day by a 230-189 tally, mostly along party lines, with Republicans in support. Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, who represents the 11th District, which includes parts of Buncombe County, also voted in support of the measure.
With the Sept. 30 end of the current fiscal year looming and the brunt of the new health law scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, intense negotiations over the measures continue in Congress. Democratic President Barack Obama has accused “conservative Republicans of holding the nation hostage by trying to make passing a federal budget and increasing the debt ceiling contingent on defunding health care reforms,” according to CNN.
Asked by Xpress if he’d like to respond to the local protestors, McHenry emailed the following statement: “In August I said I would not vote to shutdown the federal government and my vote Friday is consistent with that. A bipartisan majority in the House passed legislation to keep the federal government open. It is now the responsibility of the Senate to pass this bill to avert a government shutdown and ensure all federal agencies and services remain open for the American people.”