Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Republican efforts to stall President Barack Obama's new health care law need to be addressed as part of the negotiations over the federal government shutdown, Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday.
During the taping of his monthly news conference on KUED Ch. 7, the GOP governor also refused to rule out tying the Republican efforts in Congress against the law to the upcoming debate over raising the nation's debt ceiling.
The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, is connected to the spending issues, the governor said, blaming the Democratic president for not being able to lead both parties to a solution to the shutdown that began Tuesday.
"If people are that passionate about a piece of legislation they're willing to go to that length, we ought to look at the legislation," Herbert said, turning a response to a hypothetical question into a call for action on the health care law.
"We ought to address the problem, the irritant. Let's eliminate the burr under the saddle. And yet, that's being ignored. They're saying, 'Well, we don't want to negotiate, that's settled. That's over.' And it clearly is not over," he said, calling the country "divided over the Affordable Care Act."
The battle against the act that took effect Tuesday is being led by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and other members of the tea party caucus in Congress. Herbert said after the taping that Lee "needs to do what he feels is best."
The governor acknowledged the strategy linking the health care fight to the spending issues and at one point said both Democrats and Republicans share blame in not being able to compromise.
"People's emotions are high. There's clearly politics at play," Herbert said after the taping. "I think there's a dearth of leadership in Washington, D.C."
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