Political Notes – Ga. congressmen grumble, but the budget deal moves

[private]Although Georgia’s Republican House members opposed it, the budget deal passed the U.S. House Wednesday afternoon and is headed for a Senate vote and possibly final passage by the end of this week.

The vote on HR 1314 was 266-167 for passage. The state’s 10 GOP House members voted unanimously against it, while the four Democrats voted for it.

“When House conservatives were successful in implementing the Budget Control Act in 2011, the goal was not simply to limit federal spending, but also to repair and restore important programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and veterans services,” Rep. Rob Woodall said.

“Unfortunately, H.R. 1314 lifts spending caps without introducing timely spending and programmatic reforms,” Woodall said.

“There are good and much needed reforms in this deal that I fully support and I applaud those who worked so hard to negotiate it,” said Rep. Buddy Carter. “That said, it falls woefully short when it comes to the kind of structural reforms necessary to prevent Washington’s spending addiction from bankrupting the American Dream.”

“I understand the Bipartisan Budget Act was intended to halt budget negotiations with President Obama for the next two years but it does so at the expense of my grandchildren, and that is something I just couldn’t agree to,” Rep. Lynn Westmoreland said.

Overall, the entire Democratic caucus was joined by about one-third of the House Republicans to pass the bill.

The agreement worked out by outgoing Speaker John Boehner, the congressional leadership, and President Obama would reduce the possibility of a federal government shutdown by lifting the debt ceiling and allowing some additional spending on domestic and defense programs.

The debt deal may bring about a split vote between Georgia’s two Republican senators. Sen. David Perdue called the deal “surrender” in a harshly worded statement, while Sen. Johnny Isakson has indicated he may vote for it.

Impeachment fever

In addition to the budget deal, some House Republicans are trying to pull together a vote on a resolution to impeach the current director of the IRS, John Koskinen.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) charges that Koskinen violated the public trust by destroying evidence, lying under oath, and obstructing a congressional investigation into the alleged targeting by the IRS of conservative groups.

Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is conducting an online poll to see if there’s support among his constituents for impeachment.

“It is time for new leadership at the IRS. The American people deserve to have confidence in the IRS. We can only do that and we can only move forward by having new leadership and impeachment is the appropriate tool to achieve this,” Carter said.

Brian’s clients

When Brian Robinson left his job as media spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal a few weeks ago, he set up a firm called Robinson Republic that would assist private clients with their public affairs issues.

One of those new clients turned out to be the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, one of the state’s most powerful business organizations.

The Chamber sent out a news release this week, with Robinson listed as the contact person, announcing the launch of a task force to work on improving access to healthcare: “This study will pursue sustainable and fiscally responsible recommendations to address challenges that include, the viability of rural healthcare providers and safety net hospitals, recruitment and retention of medical professionals, and the coverage gap that leaves close to 400,000 Georgians uninsured and hundreds of thousands more underinsured.”

It will be interesting to see if that task force recommends that Georgia accept federal funding under the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid. That would pump an estimated $3 billion a year into the state’s economy and provide some assistance for financially struggling hospitals.

As the press spokesman for Deal, Robinson often spoke out against the acceptance of those federal funds for expanded Medicaid coverage. “We’ve said all along that we cannot afford expansion,” was one of his typical responses to reporters asking about the issue.

Organizations like the Georgia Hospital Association and the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, however, support the acceptance of Obamacare funding for Medicaid expansion – and they are actively involved in the Georgia Chamber, Robinson’s new client.

Alliance President Monty Veazey, for example, is a member of the Chamber’s Health & Wellness Committee, which will oversee the healthcare access study. Ethan James of the Georgia Hospital Association sits on the Chamber’s Government Affairs Council.

© 2015 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Brian Robinson , Buddy Carter , budget deal , Georgia Chamber , Georgia congressional delegation , healthcare access study , IRS impeachment