Congressman says he supports budget bill House OK'd last week
URBANA — President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act will continue under the bipartisan budget agreement, but U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said Tuesday that he will continue to work to gut it.
Davis made his remarks before a ceremony at the Eastern Illinois Foodbank warehouse, where a truck with fresh, first-run product — 20,000 pounds of butter and 20,000 pounds of American cheese — was donated by Land O'Lakes Inc. The food will be available to food pantries throughout a 14-county area of East Central Illinois.
Davis, who will be opposed by Urbana attorney Erika Harold in the 13th Congressional District Republican primary in March, said he favored the budget agreement even though it no longer included any reference to defunding or delaying what has become known as "Obamacare."
"This is a budget. It's not the final plan of spending," he said of the agreement that was approved by the House last week and likely to win Senate approval this week. "As for Obamacare, it is taking care of itself right now with the American people demanding that it be delayed, which is what I've been asking for.
"The fact that it's been a disaster frustrates me because I think we've gotten to the point where the political discourse on health care delivery is about a website that has cost all taxpayers more than $400 million," he said. "That takes away from the importance of the debate on whether people are going to get affordable health care. They're not because the costs have been going up. Are people going to get access to health care? In Illinois, we've had 7,000 people sign up for Obamacare, to select a plan, while we've had 185,000 people lose the coverage that President Obama promised that they'd be able to keep. Those are the families who are getting left out of this debate about a website. That's the true cost of Obamacare right now."
Davis said the budget deal "gets us back to our constitutional appropriations process that allows a rank and file member like me to have much more of a say on how we reprioritize the way Washington spends money."
His fight against the Affordable Care Act — which Davis said is opposed by large numbers in his central Illinois district — will continue, he said.
"I've tried defunding, I've tried delaying, I've tried repealing and replacing," he said. "We've tried virtually everything that we can do to let this administration and (majority leader) Harry Reid and Dick Durbin in the Senate know that Obamacare is not working and it's going to be the disaster that the American people are seeing right now. The only way Obamacare is going to be delayed is if the American people demand it from the president and the Senate.
"That doesn't mean we're not going to keep trying. I think when you look at what the president has done in delaying the employer mandate and all the tax penalties for big businesses, and offering thousands of waivers to many of his political allies, I don't think it's too big a stretch to ask him to delay the same tax penalties for small businesses and those who are buying individual plans."
Davis also said he was encouraged that a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ordered the government to stop collecting data on the personal calls of the two plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought before him.
"I think the judge is right that the (National Security Agency) needs to rein in its surveillance programs. We need to make sure that we focus more on those who want to hurt Americans rather than accessing mountains and mountains of data," he said. "This is something I've been consistent on in my service in Congress. I've voted every single time I could to change the specific provisions on the Patriot Act that allows the NSA to operate these surveillance programs."
In July, Davis voted for an amendment — which failed in the House — to restrict the NSA's ability to sweep phone records broadly. He was one of only four Illinois congressmen out of the 18-member delegation to support the amendment.
"We need to make sure that we have programs in place that will keep Americans from being harmed by those who want to hurt Americans, but we also don't want to hurt the average American's ability to be confident that their government is not acting like a Big Brother," Davis said.