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GOV. BROWN SLAMS DENHAM

Vulnerable California Republicans defend health bill votes

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POSTED May 5, 2017 10:20 p.m.

SACRAMENTO  (AP) — All 14 California Republicans in Congress voted for the GOP’s health care bill. Half represent districts that supported Hillary Clinton in the presidential election and will be vulnerable if the bill sparks backlash from moderate voters. Some barely won their elections last year.
As Democrats look to retake a majority in the House to check the power of Republican President Donald Trump, they’ll need victories in some of these California districts that supported both Clinton and a Republican member of Congress.
Here’s a look at the vulnerable Republicans, why they voted for the bill and what their opponents are saying:
— Darrell Issa — Issa, who represents parts of San Diego and Orange counties, said he voted for the legislation to keep Republicans’ longtime promise to repeal former President Barack Obama’s health care law. His opponent, Democrat Doug Applegate, said Issa’s vote showed he doesn’t support his constituents. “We will hold him accountable,” Applegate, a retired Marine, said. Issa beat Applegate by less than a percentage point in 2016 — the closest of all 435 House races — and Applegate has announced he will challenge the nine-term congressman again in 2018.
— Mimi Walters — “Our legislation, the American Health Care Act, will lower premiums and expand choices,” Walters, who represents a district south of Los Angeles, said after voting for the bill.  Democratic challenger Katie Porter said in a statement the legislation would have a devastating impact on families in her district, adding that Walters “didn’t care about how her plan would hurt her constituents.” Although Clinton carried her district, Walters won last year with nearly 59 percent of the vote.
— Jeff Denham — Denham said the Affordable Care Act worsened existing problems in his Central Valley district, where he says there is a shortage of health care options. The Republican bill is a “good first step” to giving Americans more health care choices, Denham said. Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, blasted Denham and fellow Republican Reps. Steve Knight and David Valadao after they voted for the GOP bill, saying tens of thousands of people in their districts risk losing coverage under the “cruel and ill-conceived” plan.
— Steve Knight — Knight highlighted his efforts to preserve coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Critics of the legislation contend the bill doesn’t provide enough money to fulfill that promise. Protesters staged a demonstration outside Knight’s office in Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles, after his vote Thursday.
— David Valadao — Valadao characterized the Republican health plan as one that amends the “failing” Affordable Care Act to improve access to health care. Like Denham, Valadao represents a Central Valley district where many residents get coverage through Medi-Cal, which liberals say is endangered by the GOP bill.
— Dana Rohrabacher — Rohrabacher won his coastal Southern California district with 58 percent of the vote last year. “What we sent to the Senate may not satisfy everyone, but it’s vastly superior to the failing Obamacare monstrosity,” he said in defense of his vote on the Republican plan.
— Ed Royce — Southern California Rep. Ed Royce said he voted for the GOP health bill “to move the reform process forward,” although he described it as “far from perfect.”

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