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This Week in Washington: "Judge Challenges ObamaCare"; "Tanker Decision Looms"; "Reagan Centennial"


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Another Federal Judge Challenges ObamaCare:

January was a not a good month for President Obama's unpopular new health care law. On January 19, the U.S. House voted 245 to 189 to repeal the president's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And, on January 31, a Pensacola federal judge ruled the health care law unconstitutional.

The debate also extended to the floor of the U.S. Senate last week where the most significant development was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's decision to allow a vote to repeal ObamaCare. He had previously vowed to prevent a vote from taking place.

There was little doubt over the outcome since Senate Democrats who support ObamaCare outnumber Republicans. Accordingly, the February 2 vote was along party lines with all 47 Republicans supporting the repeal and 50 Democrats and one Independent opposing it.

Senator Reid's decision to allow the vote puts Senate Democrats on record in support of ObamaCare at a time when public opposition to the $1 trillion health care law remains strong.

Meanwhile, last week's ruling by a Florida federal judge challenging the constitutionality of the ObamaCare law was the second such federal court decision in as many months. In December, a Virginia federal judge also ruled against the health care law's requirement that all Americans buy health insurance. However, the impact of the Florida decision is much greater as the judge ruled on a lawsuit filed by more than half of America's governors and attorneys general, including Alabama - all but assuring a showdown in the Supreme Court.

What was the White House's reaction to the ruling? They had the audacity to accuse the judge of "overreaching."

As the courts line up against the administration, the new House majority is pursuing the most effective ways to choke off funding of the president's health care law. Stopping ObamaCare is not enough, however. We are also working on ways to improve health care access while lowering costs for those who already have insurance and protecting coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

Tanker Decision Looms:

The goal line is in sight. The U.S. Air Force has requested final bids by Friday from the two competitors in the $40 billion tanker competition, setting in motion an official end to the contest within weeks.

South Alabama has the favored team on the field in this super bowl of industrial development projects. EADS North America, with its superior KC-45 aircraft, has partnered with Mobile to offer the most advanced and mission-capable tanker for the U.S. Air Force. Similar EADS tankers are already flying overseas.

The competitor's aircraft, the so-called Boeing "New Gen Tanker," remains just a computer generated concept.

The journey to this point has been long and fraught with missteps by the government and poor sportsmanship by the opposing team. In 2008, EADS won the competition, only to have the final decision challenged and overturned. Blundering referees notwithstanding, it's time to reach a final decision based on the numbers, not politics. EADS not only brings the best aircraft to the competition, but the most cost-effective for the taxpayer.

For over a year now, competitor Boeing has charged that EADS -- which is headquartered in Europe -- benefitted from unfair foreign subsidies. Last week, the World Trade Organization (WTO) confirmed that Boeing received illegal government subsidies in its own aircraft development. In fairness, both companies -- EADS and Boeing - have received subsidies and it should make no difference in a competition to pick the best refueling aircraft for our military.

It is frankly disappointing that with a month left in the contest, Boeing and its supporters in Congress continue to hurl such phony charges and insults. During a recent Senate hearing on the tanker selection process, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill characterized EADS's Alabama site as a "farm field." The "farm field" the senator referred to is Mobile's Brookley Field, formerly a major U.S. Air Force base that once employed 17,000 civilians.

It's game time, and I suggest Boeing suit up instead of heckling from the bleachers.

President Reagan Centennial:

February 6 marks the 100th birthday of Ronald Wilson Reagan, a Tampico, Illinois native, who went on to become one of our greatest commanders-in-chief.

It has been 30 years since he was first sworn in as president, yet his message of hope and confidence in America is just as powerful today as it was during the challenging times in which he took office.

President Reagan's principles of limited government and individual freedom have inspired millions of Americans and continue to guide our new House conservative leadership.

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