WASHINGTON — Two House Republicans who represent Nevada pushed ahead Friday to force a showdown over spending and health care just days before most of the government is set to run out of money.
Reps. Joe Heck and Mark Amodei were in the majority as the GOP-controlled body voted 230-189 for a bill that would strip funding for the landmark health insurance law at the same time it provides money to keep federal departments running until Dec. 15.
In addition, it would set spending at a reduced level called for in the budget-cutting sequestration law.
The vote erects an impasse with President Barack Obama and Democrats in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said this week any bill that defunds Obamacare would be “a waste of time.”
Democratic Reps. Dina Titus and Steven Horsford voted against the bill, decryng the GOP tactics and saying they could lead much of the government to shut down if no solution is reached when current spending expires on Oct. 1.
Nonetheless, Republicans said they were convinced they were doing the right thing to try to kill the controversial health law that is scheduled to begin enrollments on Oct. 1.
“During the August work period, I heard from constituents throughout the district who made their wishes clear: keep the government open and alleviate the burdens placed on them, their families, and their businesses by the flawed health care law,” said Heck, who represents Henderson and the southern reaches of Clark County.
“Today the House did its job,” Amodei said. “It is now the Senate’s turn to act. The coming 10 days will give the American people a clear view on who stands with the middle class, small-business owners and seniors, among others, in opposition to the implementation of the (health law) and ongoing fiscal practices that undermine the economy.”
Titus said Republicans “continue to put politics ahead of the economy by risking a government shutdown for the sake of their flawed ideological principles.” Horsford said Nevadans “cannot afford to be caught in the political games of the Tea Party.”
The vote also became an issue in Heck’s run for re-election, with his position drawing criticism from Democratic challenger Erin Bilbray.
“While the Act isn’t perfect, Joe Heck continues to waste the taxpayer’s time and money on political games that put our economic recovery at risk,” Bilbray said in a statement. “Heck’s vote today is exactly what’s wrong with Washington.”
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.