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Posted at 10:12 AM ET, 01/19/2011

House Democrats try to strike positive tone ahead of health care repeal vote

By Felicia Sonmez

Hours ahead of a planned vote on a bill that would repeal the national health care overhaul, House Democratic leaders and Obama administration officials tried to strike a positive tone, seeking to depict health care reform as a nonpartisan issue and largely avoiding the heated rhetoric that has animated the debate in the past.

"America builds, and that's what this Congress should be about: building things and making things in America," Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said Wednesday morning at a Capitol news conference. "We're here to say we're ready to build some more and make things better. We're not interested in tearing down or repealing or destroying. We're interested in building."

Becerra addressed reporters along with Democratic Reps. John Larson (Conn.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) and Rob Andrews (N.J.) ahead of a closed-door House Democratic caucus meeting. Several administration officials also spoke out in defense of the health care overhaul, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Small Business Administrator Karen Mills.

In keeping with the mostly collegial tone of Tuesday's floor debate, the Democrats speaking on Wednesday morning focused on patients' stories and the benefits of health care reform, with Vilsack and Mills touching specifically on the benefits for rural families and small businesses.

"I believe that whether you're a member of the tea party, whether you're a rock-ribbed Republican or whether or not you're a plain, ordinary American without labels, you cannot be indifferent to the concerns addressed in these very poignant stories that we've heard over the last year and over the last several days," Larson said. "That's what this vote will be about today."

One Democrat, Wasserman Schultz, invoked the Tucson shooting rampage earlier this month that killed six and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

Wasserman Schultz, who visited in Tucson in the wake of the tragedy, related a conversation she had with Patricia Maisch, the 61-year-old woman who knocked away the magazine cartridge from alleged gunman Jared Loughner. She said that Maisch told her that she was concerned about the effect health care repeal would have on her and her husband's small business and that even before the shooting, she was hopeful that lawmakers would "choose our words more carefully."

"This has been job-creating, life-affirming legislation, and I know that that's what Pat wanted to share with Gabby, but she didn't have the chance, and I'm really pleased to be able to do that on her behalf today," Wasserman Schultz said.

By Felicia Sonmez  | January 19, 2011; 10:12 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

Posted by: drowningpuppies | January 19, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Our health care bill is not anything like UK or anything else. It is not even a hand out to anyone. The features of the bill we NEED to keep is the provision that everyone can get health insurance. Everyone eventually having health insurance is actually good... Its like if you have someone going around without auto insurance it costs the rest of us more to cover them. the republicans just want to keep the insurance companies holding all the strings, they have no plans on how to cut costs or make sure we all have access to health care. I guess you'd rather have an REAL insurance company death panels deny you coverage when you get sick?

Posted by: ellis3 | January 19, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing how Congress women Wasserman Schultz placates on the emotions of her constituency. She never misses an opportunity during a crisis to spin it in her favor all on the backs of innocent victims. Has she no shame? This is not a time to nationalize what was a local and without question a tragic event. This tragedy was committed by a mentally disturbed individual and has nothing to do with repealing the government control of healthcare. Centralized healthcare has been the crown jewel of Britain, and after decades of rationing care they are looking for ways to decentralize their system and create competition. I believe we should repeal the bill and approach this in small steps. There are a few good ideas which we should keep but for the most part the bill ties the hands of Doctors and does little to NOTHING to lower cost. If you don't believe me look at your premiums since the law was signed. You can be certain that the insurance companies will pass the increase in their operating cost to the consumer. Therefore, what we should be doing is looking for ways to cover the uninsured by reducing the amount of fraud, waste, and abuse in existing entitlement programs. If people can't afford to drive we don't give them a car. They look for creative ways to commute. We should look for creative ways to provide care i.e. Pre-Med students and interns can provide care at no cost. They should be required as part of the medical licensing procedure to have completed a certain number of hours as a requirement. In addition, more serious healthcare issues can be addressed by Doctors pro bono, similar to lawyers who are assigned cases when people do not have an attorney because they can’t afford one.

Posted by: dwighttorres1 | January 19, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Watch out for Democrats using "minions" to make their point. I think it was cheap for Wasserman to use a victim of Tucson shooting to make her healthcare point.
Stick with the Facts, we need professional politicians, stop the rhetoric and emotional arguments.
England is dismantling their universal health care -- we need to ask WHY;
Massachusetts' universal health care is a Failure - we need to ask WHY;
26 States want ObamaCare declared Unconstitutional - this is serious stuff;
Do Americans think its Fair for our government to force us to pay for OBAMACARE.. before its even in affect?
Is that why we're receiving double-digit
Increases in our health insurance?
We're struggling with 10% Unemployment and
we're being charged for something that won't go into effect until 2014? Is that fair?

Posted by: ohioan | January 19, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

ja:
I did not say hampton was a crackpot, those who are saying there are government death panels associated with the bill and other lies are...like fox news has said. I did not say he did not have a voice I criticized hampton for saying just because wasserman schultz is now in the minority that she has no right to speak was a bad thing to say and very insulting to a respected elected offical and her constituants.

Posted by: ellis3 | January 19, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

ja:
I did not say hampton was a crackpot, those who are saying there are government death panels associated with the bill and other lies are...like fox news has said. I did not say he did not have a voice I criticized hampton for saying just because wasserman schultz is now in the minority that she has no right to speak was a bad thing to say and very insulting to a respected elected offical and her constituants.

Posted by: ellis3 | January 19, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone but me see the irony in excellently-insured congress people whose health insurance will continue into retirement voting to exclude the rest of us from the same opportunities in a way that extends insurance to all?

Pass repeal, and we go back to health insurance dodging their obligaions by using "pre-existing ilness" exclusions and recisssion. Pass repeal, and parents will have to take their older children off their health care policies again, seniors will not get the gradual reduction in the donut hole that reform is scheduled to bring, insurance companies won't be required to spend at least 80% of each premium on actual health care and not on profits, and millions of children will go back to being uninsured. Pass repeal, and the drug industry, health insurers, medical establishment and doctors' unions will be back in charge again.

Stop the posturing and make the health care reform even stronger than it is now.l

Posted by: tinyjab40 | January 19, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Rob:
The republicans were the ones not being bi-partisan about it. the bill included many concessions to what republicans said they could support in debate, but Republicans failed to vote for it because they did not want to ailienate their big insurance company buddies who gave them campaign contibutions. The rhetoric is to paint the bill in broad strokes as universally evil, when if you'd read the bill you'd understand there are many really great things in there. Obama was elected on the promise of doing health care reform. Are we suppose to re-peal it just because some people have been mis-informed and told it is all bad? I would welcome some hearings and debate so the public such as yourself could learn more about the bill, but to just pan it because Fox news told you so is just so weak.

Posted by: ellis3 | January 19, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

ellis3:
Are you living on another planet? You struck a more accusatory and irrational tone than hampton did! You are the only one calling people names. Why don't you tone it down! Just because people don't agree with your "life view" doesn't make them "crackpots" or "extreme". And just because hampton isn't in Congress doesn't mean that they don't have a say.

Posted by: jadrummond | January 19, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

The healthcare law was passed, despite virtually all polls showing that it was rejected by the majority of Americans, despite the fact that most who voted for it never read or understood what is in the law, and despite the fact that the overwhelming cost will create an unsurmountable debt for generations, THIS LAW MUST BE REPEALED !!!

Posted by: donn09 | January 19, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Hard to depict Obamacare as being nonpartisian when the Democrats jammed it through last year with not a single Republican vote. You know it pretty partisian when you can't even get one of the Maine ladys.

Posted by: RobT1 | January 19, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Hard to depict Obamacare as being nonpartisian when the Democrats jammed it through last year with not a single Republican vote. You know it pretty partisian when you can't even get one of the Maine ladys.

Posted by: RobT1 | January 19, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

My healthcare insurance have gone up 17% already since last year. This bill does nothing to actually decrease the cost of health care costs. It is a "payment" to the Democrat constituency. It needs to be repealed and sensible "market driven" avenues need to be put into place. Government needs to get as far away from healthcare as possible.

Posted by: jadrummond | January 19, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Our Healthcare Apartheid, where the government is more concerned about securing profit for Health Insurance Corporations than the health of its citizenry, will ONLY end when we have removed the insurance companies from the system. ONLY a Single Payer plan (i.e. HR 676) can control cost, and provide healthcare for everyone. Healthcare should be a basic right. And so long as it is not America will continue to lose its standing in the world as a Great nation, as well as its competitive edge in all industries. Our business CAN NOT COMPETE as long as our healthcare costs are siphoning off our profits.

Posted by: InsuranceTeaseDOTcom | January 19, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Sadly, I doubt the civility will last. Also, sadly, the Republicans will do all they can do undo whatever the Democrats have done if for no other purpose but to hurt the Democrats. I still firmly believe that the GOP's sole purpose is money and power, for themselves and for the richest of the rich.
The GOP cares naught for the middle class or the poor and has repeatedly shown this to be true by what they do despite all their pontifications about how they care about the "real" America and the middle class.
Their real loyalty lies with the rich and the corporations and themselves.

Posted by: abbydelabbey | January 19, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

hampton:
please tone it down. are you living in a box controlled by fox news? The bill was developed in a bipartisan way. the rhetoric of tea party and extreme right have been lying to you about the bill. Ms. wasserman Schultz does have a say because she is a congresswoman. The bill could be improved that is true, but torn apart is a bit extreem. like i said tone it down and get a grip. stop listening to that overzealous crackpots over on the glen beck channel.

Posted by: ellis3 | January 19, 2011 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The healthcare bill must be repealed or torn apart and rebuilt. It should be done on a bipartisan basis this time. And Debbie Wasserman Schultz should have no say in the matter whatsoever.

Wasserman is going through life with blinders on.

Posted by: thehamptons1 | January 19, 2011 11:23 AM | Report abuse

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