In many ways, the tough spot that Washington finds itself in this weekend is because of Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.). It was Graves who came up with a plan to defund the new health-care law, known as Obamacare, as part of a short-term spending bill. The idea quickly drew the support of dozens of colleagues, forcing House leaders to adopt the plan as part of a bill that passed the House, but was rejected by the Senate on Friday.
The 43-year-old lawmaker epitomizes the modern-day House Republican in style and substance. On the strength of a very conservative voting record in the Georgia legislature and an up-from-the-bootstraps life story (he grew up “in a single-wide trailer on a tar and gravel road,” according to his official biography), he won his congressional seat in a special election in July 2010. That got him to Washington just a few months before the tea party wave swept over the country, giving Republicans control of the House.
Graves is one of dozens of Republicans who continue to reap political rewards for their long-running fight against Obamacare.
After the Senate vote, Graves and his like-minded colleagues had another idea: delay Obamacare. But that would mean sending the spending bill back to the Senate with just hours to go before a shutdown. When asked, Graves said he wasn’t worried because there was still time left to act.
“This is a position from the conservatives and House Republicans who say there are other options,” Graves said. “We’re willing to put the law up for a one-year delay and to show that we’re being reasonable in this process. It’s just that the president hasn’t been.”
But Graves added later: “This isn’t about the president, it’s about this law and the American people. That’s why we’re willing to do what we can to protect everyone from it, as well as keeping the government operating.”