Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 5:44 PM ET, 01/18/2011

Some House rivals spar -- cautiously -- on eve of health care repeal vote

By Felicia Sonmez

As House members took to the floor Tuesday to begin debate on a bill that would repeal the national health care overhaul, the tenor of several related events at the Capitol suggested that at least some lawmakers were toning down the political sparring in the wake of the shooting in Tucson.

At a House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee hearing Tuesday afternoon, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other senior Democrats criticized Republicans' efforts to repeal the entire health care overhaul. But some Democratic leaders agreed that both parties could work together to make improvements to the health care law. And most of the lawmakers largely refrained from using highly charged rhetoric as they framed the debate in terms of patients' rights, freedom and the stories of several everyday Americans who testified about how the repeal would affect them personally.

House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) noted that during last year's debate over the health care law, he had argued that the overhaul amounted to the Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century.

"We're hearing some of the same rhetoric around patients' rights that we heard around voting rights," Clyburn said. "But does this mean that some changes should not be made? Absolutely not. When the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, it did not cover public employees. When the Voting Rights Act became law in 1965, it did not cover congressional redistricting. The Fair Housing Law wasn't perfect when it was passed, and bipartisan changes were made to all of these to improve the measures."

Clyburn added that as the House debates repeal, "I hope we can look at bipartisan changes and modifications that would increase efficiency and effectiveness but do not repeal this fundamental right."

A few minutes later, however, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) had some stronger words for Republicans' efforts to repeal the entire law.

"Every minute that we spend fruitlessly debating the repeal of health care reform -- which we know is ultimately not going to happen -- is one less minute that we are spending creating jobs and focusing on getting people back to work and turning this economy around," Wasserman Schultz said. "Why we are doing this other than playing to the vanity of the extremely conservative right wing of the Republican Party is beyond me."

At their weekly pen-and-pad briefings with reporters, both House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that leaders had not given any specific instructions to members of their caucuses to soften their rhetoric.

"There's been no discussion about acceptable language or non-acceptable language," Cantor said. "What we've said, and the speaker has said, is this: We're about a policy-oriented debate here. This is an issue of policy that was hotly debated over the last Congress, something that has great consequences for this country and deserving of a civil discourse in the House of Representatives, and that's what we expect."

At an event outside the Capitol later Tuesday afternoon, Republican Reps. Steve King (Iowa), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Tom Price (Ga.), Jeff Duncan (S.C.) and Steve Pearce (N.M.) stood in front of several boxes that they said contained petitions from more than 535,000 Americans calling for the repeal of the law.

Repeal HealthCare Act Chairman Ken Hoagland, who also spoke at the event, called the petitions "an example to the rest of the world how even dramatic change in public policy can be effected through peaceful means."

"There is no room in our country for violent tactics to change public policy," Hoagland said. "Our founding fathers left us every tool we need to change public policy peacefully, and that is what we intend to do. Now are the people who signed this petition angry? Yes, they are. ... To suggest that that axiomatically leads to violence is just a wrong conclusion."

Duncan, a freshman, hoisted a copy of the Constitution as he spoke, saying that "millions of Americans screamed out loudly that they didn't want" the health care overhaul.

Gohmert, who brought a copy of the health care law with him to the event, made some jabs, accusing the administration of "crony capitalism" through the granting of health care waivers.

"If you're a friend of the administration, you get a waiver, and it will cut your costs dramatically," Gohmert said. "If you're not a friend, you don't get the waiver. You won't compete with the friends of Obama. You'll go out of business. Government shouldn't have that kind of power. ... Crony capitalism has got to stop."

He also charged that the law doesn't go far enough on the issue of abortion, even though Democrats say that it already prevents taxpayer-funded abortions.

"You need to understand how insidious this bill is," Gohmert said. "This was written by smart people hoping that there would only be a few things removed."

Yet asked after the event whether he feels the debate over health care has changed in the wake of the Tucson shooting, Gohmert said that it's the tone, not the debate itself, that has changed.

"Anybody that's caring would want to be sensitive and not during a time of tragedy inflame somebody or hurt their feelings even worse while they're already suffering," he said. "All of us say things without realizing, sometimes, the impact that they'll have on others. ... The president using figures of speech about bringing a gun to a knife fight; he didn't mean anything by that. He didn't mean to harm anybody or hurt their feelings. But everybody is being more sensitive, and I think it's appropriate."

By Felicia Sonmez  | January 18, 2011; 5:44 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: House kicks off debate over health-care repeal
Next: Liberal groups start attacks on expected deficit-reduction focus in State of Union (West Wing Breifing)

Comments

Hey Republicans, nuts to being civil. Civil and obama is an oxymoron. He and his scummy party are divisive, arrogant, underhanded, prone to back room deals, knows all the answers, but won't listen for the questions. Your main job, is to ensure this fool is not re-elected in 2012. Get it, or you are out in 2012 along with Comrade.

Posted by: nomobarry | January 19, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Wholesale repeal? Politically and emotionally satisfying for those who advocate it, but doing so will leave us with an intolerable status quo. Sorry, but if you think "the best health care system in the world" doesn't have BIG problems needing urgent attention, you're just not paying attention (c'mon, guys . . .).

For all congressmen/women: leave your rigid ideology and your immense egos at the door. They just screw up your thinking. Remember, NOBODY gets everything they want, so pick your battles carefully, and don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | January 18, 2011 10:23 PM | Report abuse

beecheery, the repubs held the WH for 8 years and both houses of Congress for six of those, pushed through two tax cuts and produced zero jobs. Yet they campaigned for more tax cuts to create jobs. So, where are the jobs? They got their rich friends more cuts. Where ARE the jobs? Why aren't the repubs making creating jobs Job One, instead of grandstanding for a bill that has no chance of being passed? And why don;t they acknowledge that a lot more people today are seeing the healthcare law much more favorably and do not want it rescinded at all. I thought the repubs said they were going to listen to the people. I guess only the corporate people, not us citizens.

Posted by: mikel7 | January 18, 2011 10:10 PM | Report abuse

beecheery, the repubs held the WH for 8 years and both houses of Congress for six of those, pushed through two tax cuts and produced zero jobs. Yet they campaigned for more tax cuts to create jobs. So, where are the jobs? They got their rich friends more cuts. Where ARE the jobs? Why aren't the repubs making creating jobs Job One, instead of grandstanding for a bill that has no chance of being passed? And why don;t they acknowledge that a lot more people today are seeing the healthcare law much more favorably and do not want it rescinded at all. I thought the repubs said they were going to listen to the people. I guess only the corporate people, not us citizens.

Posted by: mikel7 | January 18, 2011 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Love it how the Dems say it prevents abortion. That is a total lie. The President had to sign an executive order not allowing for payment. This, however, can be rescinded at any time, by any President.

How about the doc fix?
How about abolishing CHIP? These kids will have to picked up by their parents.
How about Medicaid, too?
Why are we robbing $500B from Medicare, a system that people actually pay into?
If the law is supposed to be great and address our "failing system" and millions of uninsured, why do other entitlement health care programs still exist?

Posted by: dmccorm927 | January 18, 2011 9:05 PM | Report abuse

""Every minute that we spend fruitlessly debating the repeal of health care reform -- which we know is ultimately not going to happen -- is one less minute that we are spending creating jobs and focusing on getting people back to work and turning this economy around," Wasserman Schultz said. "Why we are doing this other than playing to the vanity of the extremely conservative right wing of the Republican Party is beyond me.""

Simple, DWS.

Because the Republicans have perfected two key political elements: One, the Art of the Red Herring. Second, the Art of Disavowing Responsibility for the messes that they have created.

Put the two together and they get a 60-seat swing that allows them to waste even more time debating government-subsidized health-care for people who don't have jobs as if it is a) a problem that b) they did not cause.

The solution to this is the same as always. Ignore the red-herrings and focus on the real problems and their real causes.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | January 18, 2011 8:43 PM | Report abuse

"Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) had some stronger words for Republicans' efforts to repeal the entire law.
"Every minute that we spend fruitlessly debating the repeal of health care reform -- which we know is ultimately not going to happen -- is one less minute that we are spending creating jobs and focusing on getting people back to work and turning this economy around," Wasserman Schultz said. "Why we are doing this other than playing to the vanity of the extremely conservative right wing of the Republican Party is beyond me."
Couldn't the dems have done this when the citizens of the United States were screaming JOBS JOBS JOBS and the dems did Obamacare and Dodd Frank and every bill they could jam down the publics throat. I have been a registered dem since 1971 and I have absolutely no use for the far left wing uber liberals that have hijacked the dem party.I also have absolutely no use for any politican of any party that won't listen to the citizens.

Posted by: RICHDIET1 | January 18, 2011 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh my God, the Republicans have had control of only the House for a few weeks and the cry is "Where are the jobs?"

The Dems had the House for four years,the Senate for four years and the White House for two years and Nada. Just over Three Trillion dollars of debt.

Posted by: beecheery | January 18, 2011 7:03 PM | Report abuse

So republicans campaigned on jobs but all they really wanted to do was steal peoples health care.

WHERE ARE THE JOBS MR. BOEHNER?

Posted by: treefrog2 | January 18, 2011 6:18 PM | Report abuse

"Every minute that we spend fruitlessly debating the repeal of health care reform -- which we know is ultimately not going to happen -- is one less minute that we are spending creating jobs and focusing on getting people back to work and turning this economy around," Wasserman Schultz said. "Why we are doing this other than playing to the vanity of the extremely conservative right wing of the Republican Party is beyond me."

___

Couldn't have said it better.

Posted by: va2009 | January 18, 2011 6:16 PM | Report abuse

"Every minute that we spend fruitlessly debating the repeal of health care reform -- which we know is ultimately not going to happen -- is one less minute that we are spending creating jobs and focusing on getting people back to work and turning this economy around," Wasserman Schultz said. "Why we are doing this other than playing to the vanity of the extremely conservative right wing of the Republican Party is beyond me."

___

Couldn't have said it better.

Posted by: va2009 | January 18, 2011 6:16 PM | Report abuse

"Every minute that we spend fruitlessly debating the repeal of health care reform -- which we know is ultimately not going to happen -- is one less minute that we are spending creating jobs and focusing on getting people back to work and turning this economy around," Wasserman Schultz said. "Why we are doing this other than playing to the vanity of the extremely conservative right wing of the Republican Party is beyond me."

___

Couldn't have said it better.

Posted by: va2009 | January 18, 2011 6:16 PM | Report abuse

So, 6 House members display half a million signatures for repeal. Those 6 House members represent over 3.6 Million people, since all of them represent full Congressional districts.
Their "majority" is less than 1/6 of their own districts; what about the other 429 Reps?
If its broken, Fix It, don't throw it away. It took a century to get this far.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | January 18, 2011 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I was watching the time allocated to each US Representative to discuss this important issue. 7 hours x 60 = 420/435 = .9655, 150 words to discuss whether an insurance corporation can deny coverage if one is sick. and this doesn't include the comma except clause that deletes everything quoted above and adds what is not covered. Guess which list is longer?

Posted by: bberka2 | January 18, 2011 6:03 PM | Report abuse

The Party of No has become the Party of can't deliver won't deliver.

The GOP is just a lame duck congress with no power and lots of hot air.

Posted by: walker1 | January 18, 2011 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company