FAIRBANKS—Alaska’s two U.S. senators cast differing votes late Monday on House legislation to continue funding the government while delaying implementation of the Affordable Care Act for one year.
The Democratic-controlled Senate rejected the House’s bill 54-46, a party-line vote that saw Democratic Sen. Mark Begich vote yes on the motion to table — or essentially reject — the House bill. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted against tabling the bill.
“As bad as I believe this health care law is for our nation, shutting down the government means lost paychecks for gas, rent and grocery money for thousands of Alaskans who work for the federal government and vital services for our veterans, seniors, children and disabled,” Murkowski said in a statement late Monday. “My opposition to the Affordable Care Act doesn’t mean we stop legislating.
“We need to get work. Shutting down the government doesn’t help anybody — and it has a harmful ripple effect on the larger economy,” she said. “It is time for the president and Senate and House leaders to come together and find a solution to fund the government.”
The Republican-led House on Sunday approved a measure temporarily funding the government through Dec. 15 and including a provision delaying implementation of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s controversial health care legislation that is the signature domestic item of his administration. A key provision of the act takes effect today — the opening of health insurance exchanges across the nation for consumers — regardless of the action in Congress.
Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, voted in favor of the House bill and issued a statement Monday evening Alaska time critical of the Senate.
“Hours away from a government shutdown, House Republicans have shown a willingness to come to the table, compromise, and put forward an actual solution,” Young said. “This is the third time we have offered them something different, but the Democrat-controlled Senate remains entrenched, demanding their way or the highway and risking the livelihood of thousands of hard-working government employees, all to prove a political point.
“Our latest proposal is simple: Delay the individual mandate of Obamacare by one year, which is consistent with what the Obama administration has already done for big business,” Young said. “We also believe that members of Congress and political appointees in the White House should not get any extra help in paying their skyrocketing health-care bill resulting from this new and flawed health-care system that each and every American must now join.”
Contact managing editor Rod Boyce at 459-7585. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMeditor.