Tea Party activists criticize Sessions, Shelby on ObamaCare

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Local and national Tea Party leaders called out Alabama’s U.S. senators on Friday, criticizing them for not signing on to an effort to defund the so-called ObamaCare health care law.

“If ObamaCare is not ready for big business, big labor, or big government, it’s not ready for the American people,” said Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots.

Martin and other Tea Party leaders stopped in downtown Montgomery on Friday as part of their Exempt America Tour. They are encouraging Sens. Jeff Sessions of Mobile and Richard Shelby of Tuscaloosa, both Republicans, to sign on to an effort by U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, to fund other functions of government for 2014, but not the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

They questioned why average citizens could not be exempted, while their tax dollars go to fund the law, if members of Congress exempted themselves and their staffs, gave a delay to big businesses, and waivers for some labor unions.

Martin said, with nine meeting days left in Congress this fiscal year, time is running out.

“This may be the last opportunity” to stop the health care law, she said.

Sessions, who was in Wetumpka on Friday, said while he opposes the law, “this may not be the best way to do it.”

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile (Lloyd Gallman/Advertiser)

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile (Lloyd Gallman/Advertiser)

The senator said he could not be critical, however, of average Americans who are concerned and are trying to hold him and his colleagues accountable. He also said it is healthy for people to keep the issue alive.

“I think it is difficult to overstate how concerned millions of Americans are about ObamaCare,” Sessions said. He said they want the law changed or eliminated.

Sessions said he is concerned the effort could backfire.

However, he said, “I haven’t seen a strategy that gives me confidence there is a plan in place that can make real changes to this law.”

Jonathan Graffeo, a spokesman for Shelby, responded to the Montgomery Advertiser that “Senator Shelby’s record of always voting to repeal ObamaCare speaks for itself.”

Martin said U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, is the only member of Alabama’s delegation who has signed on to the effort. She urged activists to call the other members. She said Sessions was tremendous in fighting against immigration legislation that she said included amnesty.

“You did not take a defeatist attitude when it came to amnesty,” Martin said of Sessions. She encouraged him to “continue to be a fighter.”

Ann Eubank, legislative chair for the Rainy Day Patriots Tea Party, said they are not suggesting shutting down government and that other functions would continue. She said the health care law is not affordable and will not provide care. She said the law is “fatally flawed.”

Deanna Frankowski, chair of the Tea-Party affiliated Alabama Legislative Watchdog, said they must take every opportunity available to fight the law.

“Have no doubt about it, our taxes will be raised,” she said.

Martin said Obama, in delaying implementation for some portions, has acknowledged the law is not ready.

Martin, who acknowledged the effort to defund the law is “an uphill battle,” and other activists started the Exempt America Tour last week in Lexington, Ky., and will be in Cincinnati on Saturday, Pennsylvania on Monday, and in Washington, D.C., for a protest on Tuesday.

– posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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