WASHINGTON — Rep. Doug Lamborn has cast “nay” vote after “nay” vote against President Obama’s signature health-care law.
But the Colorado Springs Republican has stopped short of saying the federal government should be shut down if funding for Obamacare is approved — and thrown a jab at the state’s largest newspaper for failing to recognize this fact.
Although he owns one of the most conservative voting records in Congress, Lamborn has given himself wiggle room on the politically sensitive issue of a government shutdown. Now he is pushing back against a Denver Post story that said he urged “shutting down the government over the funding of Obamacare.”
A post appeared on the paper’s website Tuesday afternoon that noted Lamborn signed a letter circulated by a Republican backbencher that called on House GOP leaders to vote against any spending bill that would fund the new healthcare law. Both the headline of the post — “Rep. Doug Lamborn signs on to letter urging government shutdown over Obamacare” — and the text suggested Lamborn’s position was absolutist.
Catherine Mortensen, his communications director, sought to correct the record in an interview Wednesday. “(The) letter didn’t draw a red line in the sand. It didn’t say if you (the leadership) bring up an appropriations bill that doesn’t defund, we will shut down the government,” she said.
Allison Sherry, the Denver Post’s Washington correspondent and author of the article, did not respond to an email message for comment.
The House Republican “Dear Colleague” letter urges House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor to defund the new health care law as part of a government funding bill. “… (W)e urge you to affirmatively defund the implementation and enforcement of Obamacare in any relevant appropriations bill brought to the House floor in the 113th Congress, including any continuing appropriations bill,” the letter says.
As Roll Call and Politico noted, the letter contrasts with the unequivocal position of Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.). The lawmaker sent out a press release July 25 that said, “I’m not going to vote for a continuing resolution that funds Obamacare.”
Sherry’s blog post echoed the theme of an email message President Obama’s supporters sent 30 hours earlier on Monday morning.
“In case you missed it, here’s the latest plan being pushed by some members of the House: Cut all funding for Obamacare or shut down the government,” Jon Carson, executive director of Organizing for America, wrote referring to Rep. Meadow’s letter.
Congress has until September 30 to approve appropriations bills to provide taxpayers dollars to the federal government for the 2014 fiscal year. If both the House and Senate cannot agree on the spending bills, they would need to pass, and Obama would need to sign, a continuing resolution that funds the government past mid-October. That is the date at which the nation’s debt limit will be reached, according to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
Lamborn’s opposition to raising the debt ceiling and funding Obamacare is further to the right than the three other House Republicans in the Colorado congressional delegation. Representatives Scott Tipton of Cortez, Cory Gardner of Yuma, and Mike Coffman of Aurora did not sign the “Dear Colleague” letter calling for a continuing resolution that does not contain funding for Obamacare.
Lamborn would be an unlikely ally of shutting down the government at all costs. His congressional district, the fifth, has five military installations and the U.S. Air Force Academy. In addition, Lamborn has sought to position himself as a champion of defense workers. Late last month, the House approved his amendment to the Department of Defense appropriations bills that stops unpaid days off for 680,000 civilian defense employees after September 30.