CHAMPAIGN — House Republicans will vote on a measure this week to delay implementation of the individual mandate portion of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said Monday.
And he'll support the effort, he said.
Davis, a longtime opponent of what he called "Obamacare," said the program is "an impending disaster."
He noted that the administration announced earlier this month that it would delay implementation of the law for large employers.
"If he's giving you a reprieve," Davis told a Champaign Rotary luncheon crowd, "why won't he give a reprieve to the individual mandate, and to others? I am not too sure that constitutionally the president can just come in and say unilaterally that we're not going to implement a part of a law that he's already signed into law, that has effective dates."
Davis said he'll vote "to stop the individual mandate" and "I hope the Senate has the courage to be able to make that happen. What we have to do is fix the problems that the implementation is inevitably going to cost all Americans."
Davis contended that Congress "can make some easy fixes without turning this country's system into a ration care, government-heavy health care system which is what Obamacare is going to be."
Davis also hit the lack of bipartisanship in Congress, while blaming Democrats for the failure of a comprehensive farm bill three weeks ago that he had helped put together.
"Washington's broke, I get it. I understand it and it's a challenge I'm willing to take on," David said. "It's going to take both parties coming together to find some common sense solutions to our nation's problems. That, my friends, is what we've been missing for a few years now in Washington, D.C. I can remember when Congress used to govern."
Minutes later, however, he blamed Democrats for the defeat of the first House farm bill proposal that included reduced funding for food stamps.
"But when I saw the other side cheer after that bill failed I knew that it failed because of politics. It failed because one side wanted the other side to look bad," David said.
He acknowledged that Republican votes came off the bill as well. While there were 172 Democratic votes against the first bill, there also were 62 Republicans voting no.
"Farm bills traditionally have been bipartisan," he said. "We were told to expect a certain amount of votes from the other side that did not come about. They feigned that they were concerned about one of the amendments that came right before. That was just political posturing."
"The amendment that they used as their reason to vote against it was to require able-bodied individuals to maybe provide some community service or volunteer their time," Davis said. "I don't think that's a bad amendment at all."
Last week, the House approved a farm bill that does not include spending of a food and nutrition program, including food stamps. That doesn't mean there won't be a food stamp program, only that there won't be billions of cuts to the program this year, Davis said.
"We will, no matter what the rhetoric says, we will have that safety net, but probably at a much more costly rate than what we would have had if our original bill would have passed three weeks ago," the freshman congressman said. "They know that the truth is that probably more will be spent on food and nutrition programs because it's a mandatory program."
As an example of bipartisanship, Davis cited the approval of his first bill, naming a new Mississippi River bridge in St. Louis the "Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge."
"We're not necessarily saving the world with this bill, but it's a small example of bipartisanship and how we can move things forward," he said.
As for immigration reform, Davis said the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate "is dead on arrival. There are provisions in that Senate bill that would allow the Department of Homeland Security secretary to deem when the border is secured. (Homeland Security chief) Janet Napolitano has said that our border has never been more secure. Well, I'd urge her to talk to Congressman Adam Kinzinger (a Manteno Republican) who's flown missions there because of his Guard duty, down on the border. Ask him how secure he saw that border."