Conservative group blasts Republican Diaz-Balart as Obamacare supporter

Updates | 3:26 p.m. and 4:01 p.m.

Original blog post | 2:55 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican who represents part of South Broward, was attacked Thursday by a conservative group over his vote to fund a reopening of the federal government and lift the federal debt limit.

Americans For Limited government charged that Diaz-Balart, like other Republicans who voted with Democrats to end the impasse in Washington, “now owns Obamacare just as much as if it had been a vote to adopt it in the first place. There is no running away from that fact.”

Nathan Mehrens, president of the group, was harsh in his assessment of Diaz-Balart and other Republicans, like U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, who voted with the Democrats.

In a phone interview he said Obamacare and the amount of federal debt are the nation’s most pressing issues – and Diaz-Balart failed.

Here’s his statement:

“When it counted, Rep. Diaz-Balart was nowhere to be found in the fight to defund Obamacare. Just three weeks after taking a symbolic vote in favor of defunding, when it finally mattered Diaz-Balart turned around and voted to allow funding for the implementation of Obamacare to take effect. By voting to fund it, Diaz-Balart now owns Obamacare just as much as if it had been a vote to adopt it in the first place. There is no running away from that fact.  

“When everyone’s health premiums begin skyrocketing at year’s end, when folks are forced off their employer plans, and when the federal budget is broken because of the unsustainable entitlement created by the health care law, constituents can thank Diaz-Balart, who now shares in the blame for this train wreck.”

The group later issued the same statement, substituting Ros-Lehtinen's name for Diaz-Balart's.

Mehrens said his organization has a “a wide variety of contributors and we don’t disclose our donors.”

Republicans allied with the tea party movement triggered a partial shutdown of the federal government on Oct.1 to put pressure on Democrats and President Barack Obama to roll back or do away with the Affordable Care Act. Their efforts failed with polls showing the public was unhappy with the results.

Most Republicans in the House voted against the compromise that reopened the government and lifted the debt ceiling. Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen were a minority within their party.

In a brief statement after the vote Wednesday night, Diaz-Balrat said:

“Tonight’s vote will reopen the government and keep spending numbers at current levels until January 15, 2014, giving Congress the opportunity to properly finish the appropriations process and maintain the sequester savings. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enact meaningful long term reforms that truly address our spending and debt crises.”

Ros-Lehtinen’s statement:

"This responsible solution ensures that the government re-opens and we do not default on our debt in order to restore stability to our economy and provide economic security for our communities. People are tired of Washington’s partisan bickering and while we have forged a responsible compromise, there is still much work to be done.”

Later on Thursday, Democrats chimed in, bashing Ros-Lehtinen for failing to prevent the partial government shutdown.

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said in statement:

“Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has returned to her district claiming she was just an innocent bystander to this crime against her local economy from this government shutdown. But in reality, she stood by for 16 days and refused on 16 separate occasions to work with Democrats to end it. After all that twisting in the wind, the people of Florida won’t buy into a sham where Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen tries to disown this shutdown. She was a partner in a reckless and irresponsible political game that inflicted harm on his local economy.”