It has been two-and-a-half months since the Ways and Means Committee last voted on healthcare reform. Since then, thousands of Americans spoke up – often loudly – to voice their objections to the House Democrats’ healthcare bill, H.R. 3200. We have also received new information from the Congressional Budget Office since then, including the full $1.2 trillion price tag of the bill and the fact that reducing lawsuit abuse would save taxpayers $54 billion and reduce premiums for all Americans.
Based on that information Ways and Means Republicans sought to offer amendments to the House Democrats’ healthcare bill yesterday. Unfortunately those amendments and the voices of the American people were shut out when Ways and Means Democrats rammed through a letter instructing the House Budget Committee to consider healthcare under reconciliation – which requires only 51 votes for Senate passage as opposed to the normal 60 votes. In taking this nuclear option on healthcare, House Democrat leaders sent a clear signal that they plan to go it alone – without the support of the American people, without bipartisan support and without the support of many of their fellow Democrats.
What were they afraid to debate? Ways and Means Democrats knew that Republicans planned to offer a handful of amendments, including giving the American people 72 hours to read and analyze the healthcare bill before it is voted on, reducing the deficit by $54 billion through medical liability lawsuit reform, preventing illegal immigrants from receiving taxpayer funded benefits, requiring Members of Congress to enroll in the same government-run health plan that they plan to force millions of Americans into, preventing health reform money from landing in the hands of ACORN, and letting seniors know that their Medicare premiums would increase if this bill becomes law. Under the direction of Speaker Pelosi, the Ways and Means Democrats shut down open, public debate on the healthcare bill, instead taking it behind closed doors and going against their pledge to have the most open, transparent government.
This is not the healthcare debate the American people were promised and it isn’t the debate they deserve.