Washington – Rep. Elizabeth Esty has come under fire from a liberal group for voting for a bill that would delay the Affordable Care Act requirement that all Americans have health insurance.
MoveOn.org has launched a campaign against Esty and fellow Democrats who voted for the bill, saying it wanted to “hold them accountable for trying to delay President Obama’s landmark health care legislation from going into effect.”
Earlier this month, the Obama administration delayed for a year a requirement that all businesses with more than 50 employees cover their workers or pay a fine.
GOP lawmakers said individuals should also be given the same break.
“This is about basic fairness,” House Speaker John Boehner said.
A bill to postpone the individual mandate was approved on a 251-174 vote, with only one Republican voting “no,” and 21 Democrats besides Esty voting “yes.”
No other member of the Connecticut delegation to the U.S. House voted for the bill.
In a statement, Esty said she supports the Affordable Care Act and the individual mandate, but heard from constituents who said they needed more time to comply with the law.
“Based on the concerns I’m hearing from small business owners and folks on the ground in my district, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to allow folks an extra year to prepare and figure this out,” Esty said.
But MoveOn. Org views the situation differently. It says a bill to delay the individual mandate is the latest of 38 attempts by Republicans to weaken or repeal the law.
The liberal advocacy group, which raises millions of dollars for progressive candidates, has launched online petitions asking Esty and other Democrats to explain why they voted with the Republican majority to delay the individual mandates.
Nearly 500 constituents have signed the petition. Some said they were disappointed and even felt betrayed by Esty’s vote.
Esty press secretary Jeb Fain said the lawmaker “will be reaching out to the people who signed the petition.”
“As with every issue, Elizabeth appreciates folks reaching out with their thoughts and concerns,” Fain said.
He said the lawmaker wants to discuss the Affordable Care Act with constituents and is “mailing or emailing folks who signed the petition, as well as those who contacted our office directly, about her strong support for the ACA and health care reform, to address potential misconceptions about the vote and the law, as well as encourage them to help their family and friends without health insurance learn how to sign up…”
Esty, and Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, also joined a Republican majority on a bill that would codify the administration’s one-year postponement of the employer mandate.
The White House insisted the bill was unnecessary and issued a tough veto threat.
But it’s unlikely Obama will have to use his veto power on either bill.
The Democratic-controlled Senate has ignored the nearly 40 attempts by the House to scale back or eliminate the controversial law.