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GOP leader disputes telling paper it's 'unlikely' Obamacare will be repealed

Rep. Cathy McMorris rodgers, R-Wa.
Rep. Cathy McMorris rodgers, R-Wa.
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Last Friday, the Spokane Spokesman-Review published an article in which Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wa., reportedly told the editorial board that it's "unlikely the Affordable Care Act will be repealed." But, the Washington Examiner said Monday, the statement is not a direct quote from the House Republican Conference chairwoman. Moreover, McMorris Rodgers' office told Examiner.com Monday the paper paraphrased her comments.

"As was made abundantly clear in the interview, the Congresswoman believes Obamacare's government-centered, one-size fits all approach is not working, and will never work on multiple fronts, which is why she has voted numerous times to repeal it and will continue to work to repeal it at every opportunity," McMorris Rodgers spokesperson Audrey Scagnelli said in an email.

"Until the President and Democrats in Congress join Republicans in fully repealing this unworkable law, her mission is to continue protecting as many Americans as possible from its harmful effects until it is dismantled and replaced with needed reforms focused on patient-centered health care," she added. "The debate over health care will continue and the Congresswoman will support reforms to restore decision making to individuals and families so that America continues to lead the world in access to quality and affordable healthcare."

Asked directly about the comment reported in the Spokesman-Review, Scagnelli said in no uncertain terms the paper did not quote her directly.

The Weekly Standard reported that Kip Hill, the reporter who wrote the original story, said there was no recording of the interview. Hill, the Weekly Standard said, referred to his notes. Reportedly, one editorial board member asked the congresswoman if Obamacare is "here to stay?" Hill then said that McMorris Rodgers replied, "Probably."

McMorris Rodgers' reported comments brought about a stinging rebuke from Richard Manning, vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government. Manning had predicted at one time that when push comes to shove, GOP leaders would go soft on repealing Obamacare.

“'I told you so' is such an ugly expression," he wrote. "A statement filled with self-congratulations with only muted contempt aimed at the scoffer."

"Yet no other four words can express the appropriate level of dismay that those who urged Congress to stand firm and defund Obamacare have for establishment Republican Members of Congress who told us that the time was not right for repeal this past October, and that they would repeal the law when they controlled all the levers of power," he added.

"McMorris-Rodgers’ statement," he said, "is a tacit admission that the time for repealing the law has passed, and now Congress should try to fix it."

Grassroots conservatives were not as forgiving in their opinions, judging from the comments left at the Spokesman Review. After receiving just over 300 comments, the paper closed comments on the article.

"Of course the RINO establishment doesn't want to repeal Obamacare, but they do want to allow amnesty for 30 million illegal aliens," one person said. "They are just fine with surrendering our individual liberty and national sovereignty as long as their paymasters in the Chamber of Crony Capitalism keep forking out the campaign cash. Time for all these corporatist turncoats to be shown the door."

"Is there not a Conservative to challenge this woman? To say the law can't be repealed is horse manure," another person added.

A post at PJ Media said the statement reported by the Spokesman Review appears to be a sign of surrender and is "being considered a betrayal by many on the right."

"McMorris Rodgers is only giving voice to what most of the GOP leadership and many rank-and-file Republicans believe privately: even with a GOP takeover of the Senate, there are not enough votes to override the expected presidential veto of any repeal effort," Rick Moran wrote. "It would take 66 votes in the Senate to repeal Obamacare and most of those Democrats who might consider voting to override Obama’s veto would have been defeated in 2014."

Manning concluded his statement with a call to hold GOP leaders accountable for what he called "their lamentable betrayal."