Lawmakers spar over 'lie of the year' in debate over healthcare provision

House debate over a provision of the healthcare law turned tense Thursday morning when lawmakers sparred over whether one had called the other a liar.

During debate to repeal the 1099 tax-reporting requirement, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) said Republican claims that the law is a government takeover of healthcare had been deemed "the 2010 political lie of the year."

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He cited that finding, by the independent fact-checking outlet Politifact, just after Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) criticized the healthcare law. Blumenauer seemed to gesture toward Lungren, who had just finished speaking, and said the Republican member called the healthcare law a government takeover.

Lungren did not directly say the law is a government takeover, but did criticize the laws in other ways.

After Blumenauer's "lie of the year" comment, Lungren quickly interrupted to raise a point of order and ask whether Blumenauer should be allowed to say, or imply, that Lungren is a liar.

Asked if he was demanding Blumenauer's words be "taken down" — a challenge to their propriety — Lungren said no, but did ask the acting Speaker to warn members about referring to colleagues in this way.

The exchange continued: Blumenauer said he was simply citing a Politifact finding that Republican claims of a government healthcare takeover are the political lie of the year. Lungren then immediately asked that Blumenauer's words be taken down.

Several minutes later, Blumenauer asked unanimous consent to strike his words, but then repeated the Politifact citation again in his explanatory comments.

"I'm not calling anybody a liar," Blumenauer said. "What I intended to say … is that as we have repeated talking points about a government takeover of healthcare, this has been judged by an independent undertaking as the political lie of the year."

Lungren said he never made a reference to "government takeover of healthcare."

"I apologize if the person who said 'government takeover of healthcare' was not you," Blumenauer said. "It is repeated so often by my Republican friends, including the Speaker of the House, time and time again, that sometimes I get confused, because it is a litany that is used."

Debate on 1099 repeal did stray to the overall healthcare law on Thursday.

Lungren prefaced his remarks by saying, "If it is truly an affordable care act, why has [Health and Human Services] Secretary Sebelius granted over 700 waivers to companies and union? Because it's not affordable."