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Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy. (Special to the American Press)

Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy. (Special to the American Press)

Cassidy won't support shutdown over health law

Last Modified: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 5:19 PM

GONZALES (AP) — U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy split with some hard-line members of the GOP on Wednesday, saying he wouldn't support a federal government shutdown as a way to defund President Barack Obama's health care law if the move would stop defense spending.

The Republican congressman, who is running against U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu in the 2014 election, said he would prefer an up or down vote specifically on whether to pay for implementation of the law, which was passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress in 2010.

But when pressed to clarify his position, Cassidy said he won't vote against legislation to continue paying for U.S. government services beyond Sept. 30 if such a vote would also defund military programs, as it likely would do.

"If funding for Obamacare ends up being wrapped into other things such as funding for the military, then I have to support things such as funding for the military," the Baton Rouge lawmaker said, after speaking to a local home builders association.

The issue divides Republicans, some of whom say a shutdown could damage GOP candidates at the polls and create a backlash from voters. Louisiana's Republican senator, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, has said he will support a government shutdown rather than agree to pay for the Affordable Care Act.

Cassidy wouldn't directly say that he opposed a government shutdown, trying to craft distinctions on the issue.

"It depends on what you mean by shutting down the government. If you mean that the guys on active duty don't get bullets, or that their spouses who are stateside don't have a check to pay their rent, I am not willing to do that," he said. "But you're asking me to imagine what a bill looks like, and I can't do that."

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