Republican Primary Challengers Just Love Defunding Obamacare

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 24 2013 9:56 AM

Republican Primary Challengers Just Love Defunding Obamacare

The Obamacare whip count maintained by the Senate Conservatives Fund is a deeply sad thing. In green: the names of four Republicans who have committed to vote against cloture on the House CR, in an attempt to prevent Democrats from amending it and restoring Obamacare funds. In red: the names of the two Republicans, including Sen. Mitch McConnell, who have already said they'll vote for cloture. Democrats need only four more Republicans to go along with the vote, and McConnell's early decision not to play around can only be read as the peal of doom for Ted Cruz et al.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

OK: Scroll down the whip count. Only four of 46 Republicans* will vote against cloture. But almost every Republican running for Senate, especially those challenging incumbents, has agreed to Stand With Cruz and Lee.

-Iowa's Sam Clovis (running for an open seat) says in a statement: "I will work to support Senator Cruz and his mission to totally defund Obamacare. I signed the pledge to defund Obamacare, and I will stand with that pledge."

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- South Carolina's Nancy Mace, running against Sen. Lindsey Graham: "I believe defunding Obamacare, and ultimately repealing this bill is not only the best option, but the only option legislators have to address this policy before it imposes even more damage on our healthcare system and the greater economy."

- Matt Bevin, challenging Sen. Mitch McConnell: "Like so many other crucial fights, Mitch McConnell has caved to Harry Reid on Obamacare and is refusing to fight to defund this disastrous legislation. There is really no difference between Mitch McConnell and Alison Grimes - both would vote on the side of Harry Reid. I am proud to support conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz in his fight to defund Obamacare, and I promise the people of Kentucky: I will never cave to Harry Reid."

In Colorado, Montana, and Nebraska, there are literally zero Republican candidates who say they'd vote for cloture this week. Obviously, they won't be in Congress this week. But who's to say that the "use our gerrymandered House majority to set up defunding fight" gambit won't be deployed in 2015, or 2017?

*It'll be 45 again after Cory Booker is elected in New Jersey in three weeks.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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