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Hoyer: Senate bill 'better than nothing'

By Lori Montgomery
The number-two Democrat in the House said Tuesday that the Senate's version of health care legislation is "better than nothing," and that Democrats are determined to advance some form of their health overhaul regardless of what happens in Massachusetts, where a special election could hand Republicans a crucial 41st Senate seat.

Speaking to reporters at his weekly briefing, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) repeatedly ducked questions about the House strategy on health care if Republican Scott Brown upsets Democrat Martha Coakley in the race for the late Edward M. Kennedy's Senate seat, a possibility that would give Republicans the power to block another vote on health care in the chamber. The White House is pressing House leaders to simply adopt the bill approved by the Senate, a move that would allow health legislation to pass without another Senate vote.

Hoyer declined to say whether House Democrats would support the Senate package, which is far less generous to the uninsured than many lawmakers would like. He said negotiators for both chambers remain focused on reaching a compromise that would have to win final approval in both the House and Senate. After five days of talks, Hoyer said negotiators have yet to reach agreement, but are "making progress."

Asked directly whether passing the Senate bill would be better than facing voters empty-handed on health care, Hoyer said: "I think moving ahead on health care is essential if we're going to make sure that every American has access to affordable, quality health care... I think the Senate bill clearly is better than nothing."

Hoyer also said it is possible for Congress to complete work on a health care bill within the next 15 days, the amount of time Massachusetts officials could take to certify a Brown victory. That could give Democrats enough time to push a compromise through both chambers. But Senate aides have called that an unlikely course of action, given the outcry likely to accompany any effort to delay seating Brown.

House leaders plan to meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss the issue further, and to caucus with their rank and file later in the evening. But senior aides said they are unlikely to make a decision until late Tuesday, when they see the results in Massachusetts.

By Lori Montgomery  |  January 19, 2010; 1:37 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Capitol Briefing , Health Care  
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What a remarkably stupid thing to say. "A bad bill is better than no bill".
No, Mr Hoyer, it is not. What is better is that you numbskulls stop trying to get political points by rushing through one of the largest pieces of legislation in the last 50 years and get it right on the first try.

Posted by: dbeins | January 19, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Steny, what are you smoking these days???? I would beg to differ about the Senate bill being better than nothing. That would be like saying having a goiter is better than having skin cancer. The American people, (remember us... we are the ones you are supposed to be representing) have said in poll after poll that we as a majority do not want the Federal Government telling us what we can and can't do with health care. That is not the Governments job. This bill is unconstitutional in several areas and as our representitive from Maryland, I am appalled at your disrespect for the US Constitution. Shame on you.

Posted by: nosuchluck | January 19, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

All together now one, two, three... a bad bill is better than no bill.

Posted by: whocares666 | January 19, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

It's time for Hoyer to go!

Posted by: index1 | January 19, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Looking forward to Senator Scott Brown being seated in the Senate, hearing him speak on Obamabare, and then voting on it.

Posted by: screwjob11 | January 19, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Insurance companies that cannot deny you coverage based on pre-existing conditions, or just because you got sick, and 20-30 million more insured people? Sounds much better than nothing, in fact it sounds pretty good to me.

OK, there is no public option, and tough restrictions on abortion, and overall it's not perfect, but it's much, much, much better than nothing.

I think that the House should just pass the Senate plan and get done with it.

Posted by: MikeinDC2 | January 19, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

A victory in MA for Brown signals that the American voters are lacking memory. Wanting to return to the same philosophy that brought the country into the disaster of two losing (8 years and no end in sight)wars, and a near depresion economy.

The country will be the real loser. The obstructionist GOP and the Democrats will freeze government and lead to a mean ,nasty no nothing election in November. It's 1858-59 all over again.

Posted by: COWENS99 | January 19, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

JPFann, you want to offer any details or specifics, or are you just trying to sound like a raving lunatic?

Posted by: johnc_80 | January 19, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

That should be Obama's next campaign slogan:

Vote OBAMA in 2012. "Better than nothing"

Posted by: RobParker | January 19, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Democrats: Go ahead! Ram the bill through. Then watch what happens in November.

You have awakened a very annoyed giant: Americans who now see that Obama is an empty suit and that democrats are only on the side of people who voted for them. You have good reason to be nervous, Dems. I hope you stick to your guns and jam this down our throats. Then whom will you blame in November for your utter demise?

Your delusions, elitism, arrogance, and hatred will one day do you in. Please hasten the day.

Posted by: jpfann | January 19, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

sarasota1 says"First Americans have to get one thing straight; Healthcare is NOT a right!! And with the bells and whistles(i.e.-MRIs,designer drugs, etc) is it any wonder that costs have gone out of sight??"

I reply that health care is not a right only because we have not declared it to be one. It should be a right in a civilized society.

Second, regarding costs, these have skyrocketed precisely because we have not previously succeeded in passing a bill such as the one we have before us now. Is it perfect? Certainly not.
But the costs will bust the entire economy in a few years if we do NOT pass a comprehensive health care bill. The present bill is an effort to stop this from happening.

Third, ironically, most of the people who are shouting the loudest right now are the very people whose skins will be saved by the new programs. Unfortunately, they are ruled by fear -- fear of somebody else controlling something that involves them.
Well, right now they are already controlled by the insurance industry, et al. Having known people financially destroyed by medical bills, and one person who died because of an inability to pay, I say that we desperately need the health care legislation in order to save lives, save people from bankruptcy and save the national economy -- which means YOU!

I think President Obama inherited an impossible situation. His unpopular economic decisions saved us from going from a very bad recession to a full scale second Great Depression. (If you are too young or too partisan to understand the difference, think the current problems multiplied by ten or twenty.) The Democrats have not spoken enough and done enough yet to bring back jobs, but let's remember that they did not take those jobs away. They disappeared because of the very same policies the Republicans are still supporting.

The jobs are coming back. Everyone, regardless of affiliation, wishes it were happening more quickly. However, we would have three or four times as many jobs lost if not for the Obama policies, and the health care legislation is the best sort of defense against losing coverage in this exact sort of situation. So please consider that there is a good reason that presidents have wanted to pass such legislation at least since the Truman administration -- no, since the (Republican) Teddy Roosevelt supported it a century ago.

Posted by: j24w | January 19, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I wondered what is so important that ANY bill should be passed about healthcare whether or not Congress agrees on the substance of the bill.


If you want to see just what Obama and the radical liberals want for us go here:


Posted by: aaniko | January 19, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

democrat contributor and field worker for forty years to Democratic leadership STFU already and on election day in Mass. no god...

the worst of is, it is not better than nothing it is worse than nothing and in the process you've given life to the GOP and demobilized and suppressed our own vote better than the GOP ever good and they didn't have to spend a dime or lift a finger...they just sat on their hands and chanted NO and let the Democratic Party do what they do best, cut their freaking throats time after time after time....

Posted by: teoc2 | January 19, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone remember how the Republicans fought and delayed the Senate race in Minn so the Democrats wouldn't have their 60th vote?????

Posted by: USneedsObama | January 19, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

The power to filibuster has gone from a seldom used stopgap, to a routine partisan threat.

The filibuster should be changed from 60 to 55, if it goes on more than a week, or more than 5 scheduled daily sessions.

That way it would still be a threat but one used less routinely.

Posted by: owldog | January 19, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

First Americans have to get one thing straight; Healthcare is NOT a right!! And with the bells and whistles(i.e.-MRIs,designer drugs, etc) is it any wonder that costs have gone out of sight??

Posted by: sarasota1 | January 19, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

The thing I like about republicans like the ones here is that they have lots of hate, but no answers. They can tear stuff down very well but they cannot build anything up. They are just afraid if health care sticks around it will be like social security, another program they have been trying to do in because it proves their ideology is wrong.

Posted by: MrCee | January 19, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Damn! Since when are we voting on something because it is better than nothing? What a freaking idiot Hoyer is. Can't you form a more intelligent argument than that? Maybe it's time we find something more appropriate for him to do at home instead of in Washington!

Posted by: 1of9000 | January 19, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Better than nothing? That's got to be one of the worst arguments I've ever heard, spoken by someone who expects to lose.

And, in fact, the bills probably aren't better than nothing. Leave it to Congress to take a screwed up system and screw it up even worse. From fining people who don't want, don't need, or can't afford insurance to taxing those who have good insurance, even if they have lousy salaries, to dozens of other little poison pills embedded in the bills, there are plenty of reasons why these bills could make our health care system worse.

And the argument that this is "just a start" is worse than "better than nothing." If there are better proposals out there, let's pass them now instead of saddling ourselves with a destructive bill for five or ten or twenty years until Congress gets the gumption to address the issue again.

Posted by: blert | January 19, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The Democrat Party is run by morons. Hoyer is clueless when it comes to the will of the public or he just doesn't care what his constituents want from him. What they want is for him to kill health care and the rest of Obama's agenda. If they somehow pass this worthless health care bill with all the bribery and back room deals to buy votes then the public with be furious. Democrats will be voted out of office en mass across the country and then the bill will be repealed by the Republicans. It will also assure Obama won't see a second term.

Posted by: MikeJ9116 | January 19, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Hoyer is right: the Senate bill is better than nothing. It is afterall only a beginning.

It is certainly better than anything the Republicans proposed since 1994! What did the propose, let alone pass? NOTHING. All while health care went from 9% to 17% of the economy. And it is expected to go to 25% by 2025 or so! Talk about beiong asleep at the wheel, or better yet, fiddling while Rome burns!

Posted by: AMviennaVA | January 19, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Does it even dawn on these people that they went to far and the American electorate is telling them so? I'm kind of hoping it doesn't because that will make their likely ouster from the majority all the more likely! Bye Bye Nancy, Bye Harry and Steny....

Posted by: lovinliberty | January 19, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

If that aint a ringing endorsement, then I don't know what....

"Vote for me, Hoyer, I'm a inch better than nothing."

Posted by: yarbrougharts | January 19, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

The Senate bill is a piece of garbage, so therefore why not pass it? It's the American way, isn't it?

Posted by: mtravali | January 19, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I fail to follow Mr. Hoyer's logic: An overwhelming majority of Americans don't want either health care bill. So how will passing the Senate bill be better than nothing?
I' m just a lifelong moderate democrat, but in my opinion what Americans want is for Congress to slow down, reach across the aisle, and lessen the corporate and special interest giveaways. Which is to say: Get it right before you get it done!

Posted by: mtpeaks | January 19, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Better than nothing for whom?

Senate Democrats?

or the people.

For the former the current Senate bill may be better than nothing, but for the latter... Nothing would provide better, more affordable care and jobs for the people!

Posted by: Obama_TRAITOR_in_Chief | January 19, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

cadlecreek1 . . . NO . . . but it does cover Hoof and Mouth Disease.

Posted by: WeThePeopleofVirginia | January 19, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Re: URGENT to Mr. Hoyer

Was this posted by Sarah Palin?

Posted by: esheehy | January 19, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Does the Senate plan cover psychiatric care?

Posted by: cadlecreek1 | January 19, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Hoyer.... Yes, the Senate bill probably could be better. However, since the voters haven't given you much support, the Senate bill is probably the most we deserve. Let's get it passed.

Posted by: JimZ1 | January 19, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse


What good is health care reform when a multi-agency federal-local extrajudicial Gestapo has infiltrated health care facilities nationwide with community "watch" vigilantes who compromise the care of so-called "targeted" Americans?


* Thousands of Americans, deemed to be "dissidents" or undesirables, targeted by Bush legacy program for debilitating, cell tower- based microwave/laser assault, held hostage in their own homes to fed-supported vigilante "community policing" stalking units, equipped with warrantless GPS devices, who vandalize and terrorize as local police look the other way.

* "Directed energy weapons" -- a nationwide installation employing cell towers and satellites -- induce weakness, exhaustion, mood changes, pain, head and body aches, physical and neurological impairment, strokes, aneurysms, cancer -- and many victims do not realize what is making them sick.

* Regional Homeland Security- administered "fusion centers" reportedly serve as command centers for covert electromagnetic radiation attacks, pervasive surveillance, financial sabotage of those identified as "dissidents," "trouble-makers" or slandered as threats to society.

* Use of microwave weaponry to torture and impair political opponents recently confirmed by deposed Honduras President Manuel Zelaya.

* Pleas for justice, to local police and FBI, go unanswered -- as do demands for a Department of Justice Civil Rights Division investigation and congressional hearings.

"These are crimes against humanity and the Constitution, being perpetrated under the cover of national security and 'safe streets' by multiple federal and local agencies and commands -- an American genocide hiding in plain sight, enabled by the naivete of those who think 'it can't happen here.'" -- Victor Livingston, former reporter for WTXF-TV Philadelphia, Phila. Bulletin, N.Y. Daily News, St. Petersburg Times; producer/host, MSG Network Sports Business Report; columnist,


"U.S. Silently Tortures Americans with Cell Tower Microwaves" and "Gestapo USA; Fed-Funded Vigilante Network Terrorizes Americans" at: (Journalism groups -- Reporting)
OR (see "stories" list)

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 19, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

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