COLUMBIA — Though South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley tells voters she wants Congress to “defund Obamacare,” her campaign spokesman said Friday that she doesn’t support shutting down the federal government to do so.
Haley emphasized her opposition to the federal health care law earlier this week in officially announcing her re-election bid.
“When it came to Obamacare, we didn’t just say no, we said never,” she told supporters in Greenville on Monday after being introduced by Sen. Tim Scott, whom she appointed last December when Jim DeMint resigned.
“And we’re going to keep on fighting until we get people like Sen. Scott and everybody else in Congress to defund Obamacare,” she said to applause.
In explaining her comment, Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said that while the Republican wants to stop the law, she does not support shutting down the rest of government. He said Haley trusts South Carolina’s congressmen to determine the best way to undo the law.
“She knows our federal delegation, which is a group of strong conservatives, can lead the fight to do away with” what she deems a disaster, he said.
On Thursday, a national Tea Party group stopped in Charleston as part of its efforts to urge Republican lawmakers to oppose any federal spending bill that includes funding for the health care overhaul. At stops across the nation, the Tea Party Express, which says it’s the nation’s largest Tea Party political action committee, has called out Republican lawmakers who haven’t committed to “defund Obamacare.”
More than a third of Republicans in the House have signed a letter urging Speaker John Boehner to trigger a government shutdown rather than fund the law’s implementation. Leaders of both parties say a budget standoff likely
would result in a partial shutdown of the federal government, similar to those that occurred in 1995 and 1996.
Voters chiefly blamed Republicans for those shutdowns, and the fallout boosted Democratic President Bill Clinton. Ever since, many establishment Republicans have urged the party to avoid using shutdown threats as a bargaining tool.
But tea party-backed conservatives reject that advice.
The federal fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and the looming budget votes come as key provisions of the law take effect. Millions of Americans will begin signing up for health insurance Oct. 1 through online marketplaces.
In South Carolina and other Republican-led states that have opposed the law, the federal government is running the exchanges. The idea is that residents can compare coverage terms and prices and then use federal subsidies, if they qualify, to help cover the cost of a policy.
Starting Jan. 1, residents without health care will be fined.