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King Uses Vote on Spending Bill to Make Point on Health Care

Rep. Steve King said he’s putting GOP leaders on notice that he wants to be taken seriously in his efforts to defund the health care overhaul law.

The Iowa Republican voted “present” Tuesday on a rule to proceed to a continuing resolution to keep the government funded for the remainder of fiscal 2011 because it did not include his amendment to halt funding for the health care law. The House voted 242-174 in favor of the rule on the spending bill, and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) joined King in voting “present.” 

“I couldn’t vote ‘yes’ on a rule that I so disagree with,” King told reporters Tuesday after the floor vote. “There couldn’t be a bigger issue: While we’re here seeking to cut $100 billion out, we’re watching $105.5 billion go forward that implements Obamacare. That’s why it’s so important.”

King made his case for the amendment to the Rules Committee on Monday night, but the panel decided it and several others were not germane to the legislation. He also worked with tea party groups and penned a Washington Times editorial Monday to rally support.

King could still try to bring up his amendment this week, although a point of order would likely be raised against it. He said he would continue to push for it if the House takes up a short-term continuing resolution or when debate begins over increasing the debt limit.

In the meantime, the Iowan said he will continue to pressure GOP leaders and work with conservative groups to call on Members to support his efforts.

“I don’t know the effect of the activities today, but putting up a vote that’s ‘present’ on a rule I can’t vote for isn’t quite like the effort to oppose the rule,” King said. “I want to keep [leadership] interested. I don’t want them to think that the best tactic is to try to marginalize me. I want them to take the political capital that I and the people I work with have and use it to reach a common cause.”

Still, King criticized Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for endorsing a rules process for the CR debate that King said shuts out rank-and-file Members from offering amendments. The CR is being considered under a modified open rule, which means that only amendments deemed germane and budget neutral will be considered.

“The Speaker has said that he wants to have a rule and live by the rules. I like living by the rules,” King said. “But if the rules allow language to be written into the bill by some, their franchise is no more valuable than the franchise I have to represent my constituents.”

In a statement, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said, “The Speaker is totally committed to stopping Washington Democrats’ health care law, which will raise health care costs, bankrupt our country, and is already costing jobs.”

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