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Thune praises Cruz effort to end Obamacare

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has created a chorus of Republican critics over the way he orchestrated a near-shutdown of the federal government as he called for the defunding of Obamacare, but South Dakota’s John Thune is not among them.

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“I give him credit for having the endurance and the willingness to raise the issue in a way that has probably gotten a lot of people’s attention,” Thune told reporters Wednesday. “He’s very passionate about this and willing to put in a lot of time on the floor. Ted has chosen this particular way of getting that message out there.”

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Ky., and Minority Whip John Cornyn, Texas, are among the GOP senators who objected to Cruz’s strategy, which he intended to shut down the government until and unless Democrats agreed to abolish funding for President Obama’s health-care law. Cruz’s effort, which included holding the Senate in session overnight with a near-22-hour speech, ended Wednesday when the Senate voted to prevent a government shutdown.

Thune called Obamacare, much of which begins taking effect next week, “a very bad law that will have very bad impacts on people’s jobs and health care costs.”

While Republicans might not all agree with Cruz’s approach, the party is united in its desire to upend Obamacare, Thune said.

“One thing that unifies Republicans is the complete and absolute opposition we have to Obamacare and the absolute unified support we have for anything that would delay the impact that this will have on the American people,” Thune said. “I’m hoping what they have done is sufficient to raise and elevate the issue in the minds of the public, and that will create enough pressure on Democrats in Washington to find (a way to reform the health care law).”

Thune said he supports the funding bill — called a continuing resolution — that would keep the federal government operating through December but strip all Obamacare funding.

“I am going to vote against any attempt by the Democrat majority to reinsert Obamacare funding,” Thune said. “This is a choice between supporting the president’s disastrous law or standing with the majority of Americans who oppose the law.”

Thune said the law already has caused health care premiums to increase and businesses to cut hours for employees and not hire new help.

“More and more Americans are losing their health care,” Thune said. “This is harmful to the lower and middle income families who feel the real brunt of that.

“We have been doing everything to defeat it and delay it, repeal it, whatever we can do to mitigate the harmful impact of this law on the American people.”