Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Representative Jim Jordan, a leading member of the U.S. House’s conservative caucus, said changes to President Barack Obama’s health-care law must be part of any budget deal to end the government shutdown.
“We have to get something on Obamacare,” the Ohio Republican said on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend.
That stance, which Obama and congressional Democrats say is a nonstarter, has stymied talks to produce a stopgap spending measure that would restore government services. It also risks undermining efforts to raise the $16.7 trillion federal debt ceiling, which will reach its limit by Oct. 17.
“I don’t plan to support anything that doesn’t address the underlying problem,” Jordan, 49, said of the Affordable Care Act, which requires most Americans to have insurance or pay a penalty while forcing insurers to cover pre-existing medical conditions.
Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada ruled out such a tradeoff after an Oct. 2 meeting the president had with congressional leaders of both parties at the White House.
“We are locked in tight on Obamacare,” Reid said after the meeting.
Obama told reporters yesterday that he can’t negotiate a budget “with a gun held to the head of the American people.”
Representative Peter King, a New York Republican who is pushing for a compromise, has said Jordan’s faction of the party must pledge not to try to oust House Speaker John Boehner if he works with more moderate Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement that ends the shutdown.
Jordan repeatedly declined to make such a promise in the interview, while saying Boehner is doing “a great job” and there’s no effort under way to unseat him.
“Our conference is more unified than it’s ever been,” Jordan said.
The Republican lawmaker, a former college wrestler and coach who has served in Congress since 2007, said changing the health law is also key to any plan to raise the debt limit.
“It has to be part of this idea of getting this $17 trillion debt under control,” he said.
The mandate for individuals to buy insurance should be delayed because Obama already has postponed the requirement that large businesses provide coverage to their workers, he said.
“All we’re asking the president to do is treat Americans equal,” he said.
Obama has said he is open to revising the health-care law, though not in exchange for ending the partial government shutdown forced by a budget impasse or raising the debt limit.
“If the White House keeps to that position, that is extremely irresponsible,” Jordan said.
On the foreign policy front, asked if it is appropriate for Obama to respond to Iran’s overtures to negotiate over the future of that nation’s nuclear-enrichment plans, Jordan said, “Well, you have to see what the deal is.”
“But I think this is very dangerous,” Jordan said. “It’s very dangerous to start negotiating with a guy like Mr. Rouhani,” he said of the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani.
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