It was five years ago today that a group of hardline House Republicans who opposed the Affordable Care Act were able to shut the federal government down for 16 days.
The shutdown left nearly 800,000 federal employees out of work without pay and was extremely unpopular with the public.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis was one of a group of approximately three dozen House conservatives who attached a provision to a spending bill that said funding for the federal government’s operations could only happen if Obama’s health care program were cut. It was considered a “poison pill” that eliminated any chance of the federal budget getting support in the U.S. Senate, leading to gridlock.
Three Florida Democrats who served in the House at that time were happy to note DeSantis’ support for shutting down the government on a conference call Monday.
“It was really a minority of the House Republicans, sometimes called the Tea Party Caucus, who were at the heart of this. And Ron DeSantis was part of that Tea Party Caucus,” said Tampa Representative Kathy Castor. “It was irresponsible. It was bad for the country.”
Republicans have called Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum’s proposal to raise the corporate tax rate on businesses as an indicator of a “radical”agenda that he would bring to state government if elected. But Palm Beach County-area Representative Lois Frankel said it was “one thing to be a radical in Congress” who says “no” to everything in Washington, and another to have that spirit in Tallahassee.
“The power of one U.S. Representative is so much less than the government of Florida, so it is hard for me to even imagine why Ron DeSantis wants to be governor,” she said.
Former Treasure Coast-area Representative Patrick Murphy blasted DeSantis as “trying to pander to a small group of Tea Party voters” when he voted to support a government shutdown give years ago. He also questioned DeSantis’ political strategy, noting that even if a bill that included a provision defunding the Affordable Care Act made it to Barack Obama’s desk, the president would have just vetoed it.
Newsweek reported last year that there were at least 70 Republican-led attempts to repeal, modify or otherwise eliminate the Affordable Care Act since its inception in 2010.
Last week President Trump signed a large spending package that funds the government and avoided a shutdown. Earlier this summer Trump threatened to shut down the government if Congress didn’t provide funding to build a wall along the Mexican border.
On the campaign trail, DeSantis said that he backed the president’s sentiments, saying he urged Trump to veto the federal budget – which would trigger a shutdown.
“Congress keeps doing the same stuff over and over again, and I think if he says, ‘I’m willing to veto something’ that would actually light a fire under someone’s rear end,” DeSantis said.