The Edmond Sun

September 20, 2013

Congress OKs funds until Dec. 15

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Congressman James Lankford joined the Republican House in approving a continuing resolution Friday to fund the government at sequester levels through Dec. 15. The vote was 230-189 along partisan lines.

Congress must pass a budget or continuing resolution by Oct. 1 or face a government shutdown.

House Resolution 59 would hold the funding of the Affordable Care Act in all accounts, said Lankford, R-Edmond. It also would secure the full faith and credit of the federal government’s ability pay its national debt responsibilities.

“Our statement is people at home have told us over and over again that they have major concerns about Obamacare,” said Lankford, Republican Policy Committee chairman. “There are significant problems and they’ve asked us to hold on it and say, ‘This is not ready.’”

The Senate is expected to begin debate on the item Monday, Lankford said. Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama have said the bill will be dead on arrival. Influential U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said an attempt to defund the ACA is irrational.

Lankford, himself, said he expects the Senate to kill HR59 and send it back to the House. The House will update the measure as it chooses, he added. There is plenty of time to resolve the issue, he said.

In Kansas City Friday, Obama accused House Republicans of “trying to mess” with him.

“You don’t have to threaten to blow the whole thing up if you don’t get your way,” Obama said in Kansas City.

Obama already has delayed areas of the ACA whether it be employer mandate, caps on limitations and changes in high-risk pools because there is a lack of money, Lankford said. The administration, however, is not interested in any more delays.

“Even today, it is reported that the exchange system is having significant failures as they approach the Oct. 1 deadline,” Lankford said. “They have major problems.” Lankford questioned the need to press on with ACA simply for the sake of doing it.

“All of the warning lights are going off on the dash,” he said.

Two perspectives divide Congress regarding the AFC, Lankford said. One group is pushing for what it wants the AFC to accomplish. Others focus on the reality of its economic impact. Jobs are being lost due to the AFC, Lankford said.

Department of Labor statistics indicate that 169,000 new jobs were created in August and the unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent. This figure does not include people who have given up looking for employment, or those who have expired unemployment benefits.

Lankford conducted a town hall Thursday evening from his desk in Washington, D.C., where the congressman said a business owner with 42 employees complained that the AFC is choking his ability to hire full-time workers.

“His evaluation is correct,” Lankford said. “If he grows employees to 50, all the  rules change for him.” The ACA is causing employers to depend on part-time workers, Lankford said.

“Costs are going up. There are major implementation issues, so we’re not dealing with the dream and the hope,” Lankford said. “We’re dealing with the reality of what’s actually occurring.”