Defunding the health care law — and ultimately repealing it — will be Chip Cravaack’s priority when he joins the House in the 112th Congress, the Minnesota Republican told NPR on Wednesday.
Cravaack, who upset longtime Democratic Rep. James Oberstar in the 8th district, said competition is the key to accessible, affordable and quality health care.
“I use Lasik surgery as an example,” he told a caller from Finland, Minn. “Through the years, accessibility has improved dramatically because more doctors have gotten into the practice. The quality of the care has actually increased significantly because of the different types of techniques that have been developed through the years, and affordability has dramatically increased for Lasik surgery.”
He acknowledged that a full repeal is unlikely so long as Democrats control the Senate and White House.
Cravaack said he would consider joining the House Tea Party Caucus recently created by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). The former Northwest Airlines pilot fought back against the perception that his time as a union steward was somehow contradictory to his new role as a conservative Congressman.
“There’s a fallacy out there that union members are not conservative. There’s a lot of union members that are conservative,” he said. “I think what goes beyond party at this point is taking a look at the deficit, taking a look at the debt that is being incurred by our country and being passed on to the next generation, our children.”
Neal Conan of NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” conducted the interview over the phone as Cravaack made his way through an ice storm to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. He took three calls from residents of Cravaack’s northeastern Minnesota district.
Cravaack told one disappointed caller that he would not support America’s Commitment to Clean Water Act, a bill that Oberstar introduced in 2010 to clarify provisions of the Clean Water Act. He told another that he would not support a railway project in Minnesota because he believed it would create debt and would not be sustainable.
The interview with Cravaack begins at about the 17-minute mark:
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.