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Rep. Hank Johnson Headshot

House Republicans Don't Seem to Get It

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House Republicans control just one half of one of the three branches of government, but they tyrannically seek to impose their will on the majority by shutting down government unless we agree to stop Obamacare.

Love it or hate it, Obamacare is the law of the land. It was passed by Congress, signed into law by President Obama, declared constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court and ratified by a majority of Americans, who reelected the president for a second term.

The tea party extremist wing of the Republican house caucus is literally holding America hostage in a selfish and reckless attempt to undo what has been lawfully done. Shutting down the government unless Congress kills Obamacare -- otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- would destroy the extension of affordable healthcare to 50 million uninsured or underinsured Americans. Its passage was won fair and square. This attempt to kill a hard-won victory by shutting down the government is undemocratic and destructive to the nation's economic recovery, and it stains our image at home and abroad. It is also selfish and imprudent.

And this didn't have to happen.

A resolution funding the government sits in the House awaiting a vote. If Republican leadership allowed a simple yes or no vote on the "clean" continuing resolution already passed by the Senate -- it would pass and government could reopen. The funding of our government is the issue before us, not tired, old and parroted talking points that the ACA is a train wreck.

Even though they've already voted 45 times to defund or delay the health care law, this group of House Republicans is so obsessed with sabotaging the ACA that they're willing to take the nation's economy hostage to do it.

And while the shutdown is bad enough, we now face the prospect that extremists will repeat this plot with the upcoming vote on raising the debt ceiling, which could cause the U.S. to default and create a global economic crisis.

The consequences of the shutdown are already being felt: 800,000 government employees thrown out of work, more than a million more without pay, offices that provide important services shuttered, and hungry children who depend on nutritional programs cut off from assistance.

Just as we're recovering from the recession, some in Congress think it's a good thing to shut down the government to exact ideological demands -- costing the nation $150 million a day and about $1 billion a week.

Why? So we can put insurance companies back in charge? So we can prevent 50 million Americans from getting affordable insurance? So insurance companies can discriminate against women and people with pre-existing conditions?

Since going live at midnight Oct. 1, healthcare.gov -- a one-stop shop for the exchanges -- has been visited more than 3 million times. Enrollment for 2014 has officially begun.

To all of this, my Republican colleagues say "no." And of course they do so at the nation's peril.

According to a new Quinnipiac poll, seventy-two percent of Americans are opposed to Congress shutting down the federal government to block implementation of the ACA. Nearly 60 percent of Americans reject cutting off funding to stop the law.

The myopic obsession of the tea party with destroying health care reform and wounding the president has led Republicans astray.

A new United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection poll shows a plurality of Americans say that causing political problems for President Obama is now the GOP's top priority in Washington.

The American people understand. Why don't House Republicans get it?