All-GOP Kansas delegation splits over budget plan
TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas' all-Republican congressional delegation split over legislation raising the federal debt ceiling and ending the partial shutdown of the federal government, with Sen. Jerry Moran and Rep. Lynn Jenkins supporting it.
Sen. Pat Roberts, who faces a tea party challenge in the GOP primary to his re-election next year, voted against the measure Wednesday, citing as one reason its failure to delay parts of the federal health care overhaul championed by President Barack Obama, a Democrat. Reps. Tim Huelskamp, Mike Pompeo and Kevin Yoder also voted no.
The Kansans in Congress had consistently criticized the 2010 federal health care law, particularly amid the glitches plaguing this month's opening of the federally run online insurance marketplace for Kansas. They also said Democrats were unwilling to negotiate on budget issues.
But Moran and Jenkins, who represents the 2nd District of eastern Kansas, followed other top Republican congressional leaders in backing the measure, which Obama signed late Wednesday. Jenkins is a member of the House GOP leadership team, and Moran is chairman of Senate Republicans' campaign committee.
Moran, who doesn't face re-election until 2016, said the president and Congress missed an opportunity to cut spending and tackle the long-term costs of entitlement programs but called the legislation a "good-faith deal."
"I share Kansans' frustration with Washington's habit of crisis-to-crisis governing," Moran said.
Jenkins so far faces the most spirited re-election challenge for 2014 of any Kansan in the U.S. House. Democratic opponent Margie Wakefield, a Lawrence attorney, had suggested Jenkins was doing nothing to end the shutdown.
Jenkins expressed misgivings that the legislation is a short-term fix. It finances the federal government through Jan. 15 and allows normal borrowing through Feb. 7.
But she added in a statement, "I didn't come to Congress to shut things down; I came here to get things done."
Roberts is being challenged in the GOP primary by Dr. Milton Wolf, a Leawood radiologist known in tea party circles for vocal criticism of the federal health care overhaul.
Roberts also is a vocal critic of the health care law, but Wolf has criticized him for voting in 2009 to confirm Kathleen Sebelius, a former two-term Kansas governor, as U.S. health and human services secretary. Roberts started calling last week for Sebelius to resign.
Roberts also said the budget deal doesn't address "out-of-control" federal spending.
Huelskamp, Pompeo and Yoder gave similar reasons for voting against the deal. Pompeo, representing the 4th District of south-central Kansas, described his vote as a vote against "unlimited government spending."
Yoder, representing the 3rd District in the Kansas City area, said: "While I was never in favor of the government shutdown, I also believe that putting us in this same exact situation early next year does nothing to solve our problems."
Huelskamp, a tea party favorite from the sprawling 1st District of western and central Kansas, lashed out at fellow Republicans who criticized tea party-aligned lawmakers over their tactics. Huelskamp said they succumbed to Democratic "fear-mongering" and spent more time attacking conservatives than "actually fighting Obamacare."
"It is easy to sum up this deal — the political Establishment in Washington wins, and real Americans lose," Huelskamp said in a statement.