Political notebook: Rowan’s congressmen still committed to Obamacare repeal
By Josh Bergeron
If statements by North Carolina congressmen are any indication, an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act may not be over.
Following the failure last week of a “skinny repeal” bill, North Carolina’s senators and Rowan County’s two congressmen expressed disappointment about the bill’s failure but said “the fight is not over.”
Early Friday morning, Sen. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr were in the minority when the U.S. Senate, by a 51-49 count, defeated the latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.
In a statement reacting to the vote, Burr said he was disappointed the Senate could not pass legislation to address the “health care crisis” facing America.
“Though we were unable to come to a resolution, our health care system is still broken, costs continue to rise, and Americans have fewer options for health care coverage,” Burr said. “I will continue to keep my promise to North Carolinians by working to provide relief to families burdened by the unbearable weight of Obamacare.”
Tillis expressed similar sentiments, adding that the Senate has an obligation to pursue solutions to fix America’s health care systems.
Meanwhile, Rowan County’s members of the U.S. House — Reps. Ted Budd, R-13, and Richard Hudson, R-8 — said giving up or doing nothing should not be an option. Budd and Hudson both voted for Obamacare’s repeal earlier this year when the U.S. House approved its version of the bill.
“The American people gave the Republican Party full control of Congress on the premise that Obamacare would be repealed and giving up now is not an option,” Budd said. “There is more work to be done, but it is work worth doing. Obamacare repeal will remain a top priority for me until this Congress is able to deliver on the promises that have been made to the American people.”
Hudson said the Senate should keep working to keep the promise Republican members of Congress made to Americans — to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Rep. Ted Budd’s bill heads to president’s desk
After several months as a congressman, Budd’s first bill effectively passed both houses of Congress and awaits the president’s signature.
Budd’s measure — included in a larger piece of legislation related to Russia, Iran and North Korea sanctions — “establishes a comprehensive national strategy to combat the financing of terrorism and related forms of illicit finance,” his office said in a news release.
More specifically, Budd’s measure requires the president to submit a comprehensive national strategy developed by a number of federal agencies. One of the items in the strategy would be identifying the most significant illicit finance threats to the U.S. financial system, according to the bill.
“The growing sophistication of international terror financing networks needs a national response,” Budd said. “This bill will get us closer to a coordinated strategy on this front, in the hopes that we are able to starve terrorist groups like ISIS of the resources they need to carry out their radical Islamist agenda.”
Budd, a Republican who represents N.C.’s 8th Congressional District, also thanked Rep. Kirsten Sinema, a Democrat who represents Arizona’s 9th District, for her work on the bill.
The overall sanctions bill, which included Budd’s proposal, passed the U.S. House with only three “no” votes and the U.S. Senate with only two “no” votes. It was presented to President Donald Trump on Friday.
McInnis’ school bus camera bill becomes law
Following the latest round of bill signing, a measure sponsored by a local state senator also became law last week.
Senate Bill 55 — sponsored by State Sen. Tom McInnis, R-25 — received Gov. Roy Cooper’s signature on Tuesday. The bill authorizes counties to pass ordinances to allow cameras to be placed on school buses. State law requires drivers to stop for stopped school buses and the cameras could be used to enforce that law.
“Speeding past a stopped school bus puts children’s lives at risk, sometimes with tragic results,” Cooper said in a news release. “With this new law in place, we have another tool to help children who ride the school bus travel safely.”
McInnis’ bill passed the N.C. Senate in March and the N.C. House in June. Cooper signed the bill on Tuesday.
Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246