WASHINGTON — A key House Republican Thursday openly mocked Sen. Max Baucus' election-cycle conversion to the anti-Obamacare crusade, reminding the Montana Democrat that he played a central role in it's passage.
"Your attempts to pass the buck to President Obama's team will not work, nor will they absolve you of responsibility for the harm that you have brought via this law," said Rep. Mike Pompeo, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Obamacare.
A Baucus aide dismissed complaints, arguing the Montanan remains supportive of the law and is simply concerned with it's proper implementation. "There's no change of heart. There should be no confusion about this. As Sen. Baucus said yesterday, he thinks this is a good law and he's simply holding the administration's feet to the fire to make sure they do their job implementing it correctly and informing people about the benefits that are available to them," the aide said.
Finance Chairman Baucus, who is up for reelection next year, played a critical role not only in writing President Obama's signature health care reform but also in rounding up enough votes to break a Republican filibuster.
Still, like many Democrats, Baucus has expressed concerns with the implementation of the law, and during a hearing on Obamacare Wednesday, Baucus said he was very concerned with the "train wreck" Obamacare was becoming.
In a harshly worded letter to Baucus, Pompeo lashed out at Baucus. "No one in the country bears more responsibility for the complexity of this law than you. When your supermajority couldn't pass the bill using normal procedures, you and your Senate colleagues rammed through the final legislation by using parliamentary gimmickry," Pompeo wrote, adding that, "You drafted it, you twisted arms to get it passed, and, until now, you have lauded it as a model for all the world."
Baucus's decision to criticize a law he was instrumental in writing and passing is part of an election year pattern for the moderate Montana Democrat. Earlier this year he was one of a handful of red state Senate Democrats to vote against his party's budget, and he broke with Democrats Wednesday evening in voting against a watered down gun background check measure, which helped kill the legislation.
Although Republicans are taking great delight in ripping Baucus over his Obamacare statements, walking the fine line between being a loyal soldier for the first four years of his term and turning conservative in the last two has been a key part of a re-election strategy that has kept Baucus in the Senate since 1978.
John Stanton is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New Orleans. In 2014, Stanton was a recipient of the National Press Foundation’s 2014 Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting of Congress.
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