Todd Tiahrt has maintained that Rep. Mike Pompeo voted seven times for the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.
The comments have come as Tiahrt challenges Pompeo, a fellow Republican, in the Aug. 5 primary to regain the 4th Congressional District seat he held from 1995 to 2011.
“If you ask (Pompeo) if he’s for Obamacare, he would say no,” Tiahrt said in announcing his candidacy last month. “I guess he was against it before he was for it.
“I spent hours on the floor voting against Obamacare. I was very disappointed to see him vote not once, not twice ... but seven times for Obamacare.”
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This week, Tiahrt’s campaign provided the bill numbers for that claim. A fact-check by The Eagle determined Pompeo did vote “yes” on seven measures between 2011 and 2013 that helped fund the health care act.
But all seven of those items were funding bills for departments that included defense and health and human services.
The bills don’t specify the money is for the health care act, but they do show the funds go to the department that is charged with developing and enforcing the health care act.
Five of the seven bills were continuing resolutions – including four in March and April 2011 – that allowed the federal government to operate off the previous year’s budget and avoid a shutdown until a new budget was passed.
“Tiahrt is playing free and loose with what constitutes Obamacare here,” said Chapman Rackaway, a political science professor at Fort Hays State University. “But that’s by design, because they want that opportunity to attack each other during campaigns.”
He said most bills include numerous items, and that’s particularly true for funding bills.
“You may not support Obamacare,” he said, “but it’s in there. If you vote against the bill, you’re probably voting to deny veterans funding.
“So you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. It’s almost impossible for you to vote for anything that can’t be used against you later on in a campaign.”
The health care act – like Social Security – is almost exclusively mandatory funding and voting against a bill that includes money for the act won’t do anything to make it go away, Rackaway said.
Pompeo’s campaign officials noted that he has voted “yes” on 56 bills that “directly repealed Obamacare or parts of it” since he followed Tiahrt as the 4th District congressman.
A fact-check of those bills confirmed those votes.
“Mr. Tiahrt knows better than to say that these bills equate to support for Obamacare,” Pompeo campaign manager Jim Richardson said in a statement in reference to the seven bills cited by Tiahrt. “This type of flawed logic would drive someone to believe that Mr. Tiahrt voted eight times for Planned Parenthood funding for federal funding of abortions – which would be grossly misleading.”
Pompeo’s campaign provided a list of those eight bills. A fact-check found Tiahrt did vote “yes” on the bills. But those bills were also general appropriation measures for departments that dealt with family planning.
“Implying Tiahrt voted for abortion funding without acknowledging the Tiahrt and Hyde amendments, which restrict abortion funding, is concerning,” Tiahrt campaign manager Robert Noland said.
The Hyde amendment prevents federal money from being used to promote abortions in the United States; the Tiahrt amendment does the same in foreign countries.
Perry Schuckman, the former head of Wichita’s nonprofit chamber of commerce, is the only Democratic candidate for the seat.