Senate challengers side with House Republicans in shutdown showdown

A shutdown of federal government was triggered Monday night, after House Republicans tried to use a funding resolution to stop implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Alaska’s two senators came out against the tactic, and both Republican Lisa Murkowski and Democrat Mark Begich let a clean resolution without the health care rider move forward.

But what would the Republican Senate candidates who are challenging Begich have done if they had been in office instead?

Joe Miller

Joe Miller

Joe Miller, who tried to unseat Murkowski in 2010, says he would have aligned himself with the bloc of Republicans who want to make funding the federal government contingent on delaying the new health care law.

“I think that that really is the baseline. That’s the start point for discussion.”

Miller describes his position as the “compromise” stance, and in a press release accused President Barack Obama of holding Americans “hostage to Obamacare.” Obama used similar language to describe the House Republican effort to peg a delay of the new law to a routine budgeting bill.

Because Democrats are in charge of the Senate and the White House, any legislation that would claw back the new health care system is basically dead on arrival. Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, House Republicans have voted more than 40 times to repeal it without success.

Miller says if Republicans don’t have any luck blocking the law this time around, he’d like to see members of his parties make raising the country’s borrowing limit conditional on getting rid of the new health care program, at least temporarily.

“Assuming that this issue is still not resolved at that point, I would support a package which delayed implementation for a year in exchange for increasing the debt ceiling.”

If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, the United States might have to default on its loans. That could then hurt the country’s financial credibility and damage the economy.

Mead Treadwell.

Mead Treadwell.

Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who is also running for Senate, shares some of Miller’s sympathy for House Republicans on this issue. On a conservative talk radio program last week, Treadwell called them “courageous” for trying to defund the new health care law. But his spokesperson says that doesn’t mean he wants a government shutdown. When asked if Treadwell would allow a clean budget resolution to advance, spokesperson Rick Gorka said that he would instead push for continued negotiations between the two parties.

Dan Sullivan, a former Natural Resources commissioner who is expected to announce his candidacy soon, did not return a request for comment.