COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee says he opposes the federal health overhaul law, but he believes it would be irresponsible to shut down the government to try to block its funding.

The Republican represents north Mississippi’s 1st District. During a town hall meeting Thursday night in Columbus, he faced questions about the Affordable Care Act, which became law before he was elected to Congress in November 2010.

The Commercial Dispatch reports that Monica Smith from the Tupelo TEA Party asked Nunnelee if he’d “do everything it takes to de-fund Obamacare.”

Nunnelee said he has voted 40 times to repeal or dismantle the law. But he told the crowd: “If we shut down government, Obamacare will continue to be funded.”

Earlier Thursday, Nunnelee met with the editorial board of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. The newspaper reported that he said government regulations, including those created by the health care law, are creating uncertainty that’s stifling growth.

“Many have available capital, but they are unsure because they don’t know what the rules will be,” Nunnelee said of businesses.

Nunnelee reaffirmed his opposition to any kind of aid for passenger service to the Tupelo airport.

“I think the biggest competition to the Tupelo airport is Highway 78 and Interstate 22,” he said of the road that connects Birmingham and Memphis and runs through Tupelo. “I don’t see it worth borrowing money from my grandchildren for my convenience.”

While acknowledging the airport’s role in economic development, Nunnelee told the editorial board that he opposes adding to the federal debt.

After the town hall meeting in Columbus, Tupelo TEA Party members Grant Sowell said Nunnelee should be more active in weakening the federal health law.

“I’m asking him if he will sign the Congressman Mark Meadows’ pledge to de-fund Obamacare,” Sowell said. “On this particular issue, I would say he’s out of touch with the Mississippians who are in the 1st District because he seems to have a strategy that seems to favor the bureaucracy of Washington, D.C., more than he does American patriots. He’ll want to do whatever John Boehner and the establishment wants him to do.”

Boehner, R-Ohio, is speaker of the House.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)



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