Ideology vs. Constituent Service

600px-US-DeptOfHHS-LogoThe Nation is reporting that while Republican lawmakers publicly call for the repeal of Obamacare, they also support funding from the new law for projects in their district:

House Republicans and the Senate Republican Policy Committee have trashed the ACA’s Community Transformation grants as an Obamacare “slush fund.” In the letters seeking these grants, however, GOP lawmakers have heaped praise on their potential. [Senator John] Cornyn writes in his letter that the grant would help “improve the health and quality of life of area residents.” Congressman Aaron Schock, a Republican from Illinois, congratulated a local nonprofit for winning a Community Transformation grant, noting that the program will give “people the tools to live healthier and longer lives.”

This is probably an example of Congressional staff in DC offices and district offices working in different ways. DC staff handle policy questions, and would advise Members of Congress on issues such as repealing Obamacare. District staff help constituents directly, and one way they can help is writing letters of support for federal grant applications. Those letters of support are often relatively pro forma, and most offices tend to support grant applications from their constituents. 

It is possible that these Members of Congress or their staffs understood that they were supporting funding in their district from a law they wanted to repeal. It is also possible that no one in the office ever made the connection between Obamacare and the specific funding source for the grant they were supporting. That’s particularly likely if the letters of support were handled entirely in the district office, without signoff from the policy staff in DC. Looking at the letters posted on The Nation’s website, many strike me as pro forma letters probably handled entirely by district staff.

Senator Johnny Isakson. (Wikimedia Commons)

Senator Johnny Isakson. (Wikimedia Commons)

Nonetheless, the existence of so many of these letters establishes that Obamacare opponents understand on some level that the law has positive aspects. But I still liked this statement from Senator Johnny Isakson in response to this issue:

“I voted against Obamacare and will continue to work to repeal it. However, one of the most important parts of my job as senator is to assist Georgia individuals, businesses and local governments in their dealings with the federal government. Any time one of my constituents has business with the federal government, I try to be as helpful as possible by supporting worthy projects.”

If I lived in Georgia – regardless of how I felt about Obamacare – that’s what I would want to hear from my Senator.


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