The debate over healthcare is more consequential than the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a Republican lawmaker suggested Friday.

Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) said that the debate before Congress has more import than the historic terrorist attacks or the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.

"I think this is, probably, in terms of legislation affecting the lives of average Americans, the single most important moment in our lifetime," Shadegg said of the debate over health reform legislation before Congress.


Shadegg made the remarks during an interview on Arizona radio station KTAR FM.

"More so than anything else that I can remember," he added. "Certainly more so than the impeachment of President Clinton or even 9/11 and the decision to go to war, because this affects the healthcare of every single American."

The controversial words are sure to draw the attention of Democrats, who had targeted Shadegg's reelection effort in 2008 with a late push in the cycle. 

"Congressman Shadegg’s gave not only an apples vs. oranges comparison but a bizarre one at best. Sept. 11 stands alone as a tragedy of historic proportions and should not be used to dramatize his political views," said Jennifer Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Democratic Party. "We’d love to see Mr. Shadegg channel his concern over health care into supporting the important work occurring in Congress right now."