Fitzpatrick expresses skepticism on defunding Obamacare

U.S. Representative Mike Fitzpatrick at the Inquirer office on Oct. 4, 2012. APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer

U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R, Bucks) is standing by a statement he made earlier this week in which he expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of defunding President Obama's healthcare plan and said he was opposed to any action that would lead to a government shutdown.

Fitzpatrick originally took that stance when asked last week by several Bucks County Tea Party groups to oppose funding the Affordable Care Act “in any fashion.”

And he stood by the statement Wednesday, his spokesman said, even after House Republican leadership outlined a plan in Washington that would move to raise the government's borrowing cap so long as Obamacare does not recieve funding.

That plan, expected to be rejected the Senate (and already denounced by Obama), could increase the likelihood that the government will shut down in two weeks over disagreements about the budget and debt ceiling.

While Fitzpatrick says in the statement that he continues "to hold out hope" that Congress and the President can work together for long-term solutions, and that any action that leads to a government shutdown "is off the table for me," his chief of staff said Wednesday afternoon that Fitzpatrick has not specifically indicated that he would oppose the House plan to defund the act.

(A fuller excerpt of Fitzpatrick's statement can be seen at the end of this post.)

The conservative groups that first called on Fitzpatrick to back defunding had urged him “to back-up his words with action by voting against any measure that provides funding for ObamaCare.”

Fitzpatrick and his stance on defunding have also been the subject of automated phone calls to voters this week: as our Thomas Fitzgerald reported yesterday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee began robocalls Tuesday urging 8th District voters to call Fitzpatrick and warm him not to support defunding efforts.

Ian Prior, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said of the phone calls, "Apparently the folks at the DCCC do not pay much attention to what goes on outside of their Washington D.C. headquarters,” since Fitzpatrick has expressed opposition to a shutdown.

UPDATE, 6:00 p.m.: here's an excerpt from Fitzpatrick's statement.

"I’m looking for sustainable solutions. While “defund” proposals send a strong message, I continue to hold out hope that the President, Democratic-led Senate and Republican-led House can some together for a long-term fix to the big issues we need to tackle."

"I support proposals which “go big” and get to the heart of what is holding our country back. What is off the table for me is anything that leads us to a government shutdown. We can solve these problems so long as decision-makers focus on the end game, not the parlor game."