Thursday, July 30, 2009

Republican Political Posturing

Mark one for their win column

Tonight at 11:09 PM EST the United States House of Representatives Committee of Energy and Commerce voted on an amendment to House Resolution 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act. This amendment was offered by Roy Blunt of Missouri’s 7th Congressional District. The committee voted down the amendment.

What were its details? Very simple: that the President, Vice President, and Members of Congress shall participate in the public health care plan being promoted by the Democrats and the Presidential administration. The argument: if you say it’s the best way to move forward, you should be willing to participate in it.

Representative Lois Capps, a Democrat of California, raised a point of order arguing that it was outside the jurisdiction of Energy and Commerce. Points of order are ruled on by the Chairperson, in this case Henry Waxman of California. A Democrat, he agreed to the point of order, eliminating the Committee’s ability to consider the amendment. In his elaboration, the Chairman claimed that on this issue his committee held co-jurisdiction with the House Administration Committee, and because this amendment did not include a referral to that committee, that he had to rule in favor of the point of order.

The Republicans appealed the Chairman’s ruling, which was put to a role call vote. The final count was a party line 36 to 22 in support of the ruling. One democrat was shown reading Politico during the vote while another sipped a bottle of Fiji water.

I’ve been involved in politics for long enough to know that a Committee, House or Senate, Republic or Democrat led, does not vote something out of its jurisdiction unless it does not want to have to vote on it. After an extended day of health care mark ups, the Republicans called out the Democrats, those who voted in favor of amendments strengthening a public health care option and against those weakening or eliminating one, and the Democrats cowered.

To be fair, the Democrats argue that a public option is just that, an option. Therefore, an argument could have been raised that each Member of the House should have the choice, as Republicans argue for, as to which health care package they choose. However, that argument was not made, and as the elected leaders of this country with whom the responsibility falls on to fix the national health care system, they must react to a steady slide in public support that now shows that more people oppose a public option than support it. This would have been a step that Congress could have taken to assure the American public that the pill they’re prescribing has no serious side effects. Let it also be stated that had the Democrats voted for the amendment, the Republicans would have voluntarily initiated their own enrollment in a health care plan they did not want.

No comments: