Senators use Twitter to argue about 'death panels'

Sens. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) took to Twitter Friday to clash over comments the latter made regarding end-of-life provisions included in healthcare reform legislation.

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Specter initiated the tussle, tweeting about a call he made to Grassley’s office.

“Called Senator Grassley to tell him to stop speading (sic) myths about health care reform and imaginary ‘death panels,’ Specter said on Twitter. “Had to leave a message - for now. I will talk to him soon.”

The Pennsylvania Democrat's phone call demonstrates growing tension between his party and Grassley, who is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and lead GOP negotiator on healthcare reform.

Earlier this week, the Iowa Republican echoed claims first made by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) that the provision would create a government "death panel" that will decide end-of-life issues.

Such decisions "ought to be done within the family. We should not have a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on Grandma," Grassley said.

Just under one hour later, Grassley tweeted a response to Specter’s “death panel” claim. 

The five-term senator objected to Specter’s charge that he used the phrase “death panel.”

“Specter got it all wrong that I ever used words ‘death boards’. Even liberal press never accused me of that. So change ur (sic) last Tweet Arlen,” Grassley tweeted.

Specter and Grassley’s Twitter feud is a rare instance of lawmakers exchanging barbs using the microblogging site.

Grassley did receive flack from some media outlets for taking a hard line against the end-of-life provisions.  He announced Thursday that the Finance Committee would drop end-of-life provisions from its version of the bill "because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly."

The senators' Twitter posts can be seen in The Hill's Twitter Room