Republicans put spotlight on 'backroom deals'

House Republicans are furiously trying to shed some light on the backroom deals still included in Democrats’ healthcare bill before it heads to the floor for a vote this weekend.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has just posted a new “Deal Watch Blog” on its Code Red website, which deems the healthcare overhaul bill “Deal-a-Palooza.”

In one entry, the NRCC cites several deals Senate Democrats made in exchange for yes votes some of which have received their fair share of media scrutiny since the Senate passed the bill in December: the so-called Louisiana Purchase, special funding for a hospital in Connecticut, one billion dollars for New Jersey Drug companies, a tax-exemption for longshoreman, a special multi-billion benefit for Union healthcare plans, another deal for Montana coal miners as well as North Dakota Medicare providers.

Those special deals that helped woo wavering Democrats are still included in the bill the House will vote on this weekend because of a parliamentary maneuver that takes up the bill passed by the Senate in December with House changes, the NRCC asserts. House procedure calls it “an amendment to the nature of a substitute.” Practically, whatever the substitute doesn’t change in the old bill will remain – including a number of controversial deals.

“Will Pelosi and Congressional Democrats come clean about the apparent backroom deals?” asks the NRCC’s Deal Watcher, which provides Pelosi’s district office phone numbers encourages readers to call her office and ask. 

Democrats contend the NRCC ad is full of mistruths.

"As House Republicans see health insurance reform becoming a reality, they are simply becoming more desperate and launching more lies and bogus charges in hopes of protecting their health insurance industry allies," said a DCCC spokesman.