Republicans’ health care repeal debate is taking place this afternoon. National Journal’s up-to-the-minute blog is the one-stop shop for updates, commentary, and breaking news for all things health care. Watch our live video here and check back as the debate progresses. All times Eastern.
5:55 p.m.A vote to repeal the health care overhaul law has passed the House, 245-189. Four Democrats voted for repeal. Read our coverage here.
4:44 p.m. House Tea Party Caucus leader Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. came onto the floor swinging. "Obamacare, as we know, is the crown jewel of Socialism," she said, going on to say she will repeal not only health care, but President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Senate.
4:20 p.m. Blair Fitzgibbon of Fitzgibbon Media, LLC, just sent a "heads up" that a television ad criticizing the GOP on their repeal efforts will air immediately following the final vote.
4:17 p.m. Both Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., exceeded their one-minute time allocations: Boehner spoke for three minutes and Pelosi--known for her lengthy addresses-- for almost 13. Boehner claimed that "if there's one thing we all [Democrats and Republicans] do agree on, it's that this health care law needs improvement;" Pelosi told accounts of Americans who would be affected if the health care law were not in place.
2:15 p.m. Quote of the Day (points based on snarkiness, not partisanship) from Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.: "I want to just advise people watching at home playing the now-popular drinking game, if you take a shot whenever the Republicans say something that's not true, please assign a designated driver."
12:55 p.m. Time for show and tell-- Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., holds in one hand the 10-page summary of the health care law, and in the other, the complete 2,990-page law.
"My friends on the Democratic side are supporting this bill based upon 10 pages of the legislation," he says. "Immediate access to insurance for the uninsured, extension of dependent coverage, no lifetime annual... 10 pages. This health care law was 2,990. This is only volume one. What do you find when you go through the entire bill?"
10:12 a.m. The man of the hour-- Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.-- just took the stand. Hotline on Call's Jeremy Jacobs writes this morning: "Indiana Rep. Mike Pence's (R) deadline for deciding whether he will run for president or governor is fast approaching and there appears to be a growing chorus trying to push him into the presidential race."
Either way, his approach to health care today screams leadership, and indicates that he wants to win hearts on both sides of the aisle:
"There's a lot of talk these days about where members are going to sit in the State of the Union address," he said. "I've learned it doesn't matter where you sit; it matters where you stand. Today, House Republicans stand with the American people and vote to repeal their government takeover of health care, lock, stock, and barrel.
"...I urge my colleagues in both political parties to join us today as we keep our promise to the American people. We scrap this health care reform bill from last year and start over with health care reform that will lower the cost of health insurance without raising the cost of government."
10:05 a.m. The final vote isn't until 5:30 p.m. today, but the House debate is already in full swing. Winning game face props is Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., who is donning his signature bow tie in lime green. And that's not all-- it matches his bicycle lapel pin: fitting, since Blumenauer is a spearhead of bicycle commuter legislation. Check it out:
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
6:55 p.m. President Obama today issued the following statement defending the law:
“Today, the American people have greater health security than they did a year ago. Because of the Affordable Care Act, Americans no longer have to live in fear that insurance companies will drop or cap their coverage if they get sick, or that they’ll face double-digit premium increases with no accountability or recourse. Small businesses across the country can take advantage of a new health care tax credit to offer coverage to their employees, and children suffering from an illness or pre-existing condition can no longer be denied coverage. Parents now can add their adult children up to age 26 to their health plans, and all Americans on new plans can access preventive care to keep them healthy with no additional out of pocket costs. Older Americans are seeing better benefits, lower prescription drug costs, and a stronger Medicare. And the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reports that improvements in health care delivery system as a result of this law will reduce federal deficits by over a trillion dollars in the next two decades.
So I’m willing and eager to work with both Democrats and Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act. But we can’t go backward. Americans deserve the freedom and security of knowing that insurance companies can’t deny, cap, or drop their coverage when they need it the most, while taking meaningful steps to curb runaway health care costs.”
5:25 p.m. The House is in recess until 6:30 p.m. There will be two more hours of debate today, followed by five more tomorrow. Keep checking our website as we cover the dialogue leading up to the final vote.
4:55 p.m. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., responds to the "donut hole" argument, claiming that seniors wouldn't lose their drug rebates since they were issued under existing law.
4:39 p.m. Another favorite advocacy point for Democrats today: the "donut hole" in Medicare's prescription drug coverge for seniors. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, just touted the standing health care law's eventual elimination of that gap through prescription discounts; earlier today, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., issued a release proclaiming his continued pledge to fill that hole, despite repeal efforts.
3:59 p.m. Twitter users are taking to the website to air both support and greivances for the repeal legislation. Those asking followers to call Speaker John Boehner to voice opposition to the bill complain that they are getting a constant busy signal; many more are citing the Congressional Budget Office's recent projection that HC repeal would add $230 billion to the national deficit. On the other side, supporters are applauding House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., for challenging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to take up the bill if it passes the House. But Politico reports that Reid's office still says it won't go on the agenda.
3:47 p.m. Democrats claim the first "Joe the Plumber" moment of this debate. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., recalls her encounter with a single mother and real estate agent last summer: "It's been rough, but she managed to pay the premiums to have health insurance for herself and her two children. In June, her daughter had an epillectic attack for the first time; she was scared to death ... A month later she found out her daughter wouldn't be covered by that health care plan ... If this was your daughter, you would not repeal this health care reform."
3:10 p.m. Tidbits from C-SPAN:
"History of the Health Care Law: Senate passed 12/24/09, 60-39 (party line vote); House passed 3/21/10, 219-212 (34 Dems voted 'no')"
"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he won't schedule Health Care Law Repeal even if it passes the House."
"Rules for Debate: 7 hours debate, no amendments, 1 chance to change bill; final vote Wed.- majority needed to pass."
3 p.m. The latest Twitter post by Ben Terris: House Minority Whip "Steny Hoyer: being 65 is a preexisting condition," on the government study released today that showed 129 million Americans under age 65 with pre-existing conditions by 2014-- all of whom could be denied coverage if the standing health care law is repealed.
So far on the House floor, "pre-existing conditions" has been the dominant topic from both sides.
2:46 p.m. Co-sponsor of the repeal effort, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, told ABC's "Top Line" today: “We can bring about, in effect, a full repeal by just stopping the funding,” said King, R-Iowa. “It stops the collection of taxes and it stops, well, it stops the expenditure of the money and it stops the enforcement.” Watch the full segment on ABC here.
King will also be participating in a Telephone Town Hall sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots tonight at 8 p.m.
2:38 p.m. For those just tuning into the health care repeal debate, C-SPAN just summed up its status nicely: "Seven hours of debate started today; final vote expected tomorrow."
2:15 p.m. Also to note: The Quinnipiac poll out today that Boehner referenced earlier shows Americans who favor repeal with a slim plurality (48 percent) over those who oppose repeal (43 percent).
2:05 p.m. And we're off. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., kicks off the House session by echoing the "civility" that NJ's Billy House predicted: "Today we begin the debate on the Republicans' unfortunate effort to repeal health care reform. I pray that this debate today is civil and it is respectful."
He continues: "As... many of our colleagues know, I served as the judge in my state for many years and I understand what it means to be objective and to have a fair debate. And I know that there are usually two sides to every issue. But when it comes to repealing the reform the Democrats have passed, I just can't figure it out."
1:57 p.m. Just moments before the House reconvened, National Journal's House leadership reporter, Billy House, appeared on C-SPAN to answer questions about the pending debate. Some excerpts of his remarks:
“[The repeal effort] will be a real test for this new civility [members of Congress] said they want to have.
“They will win the vote in the House, but the Senate has more or less refused to pick up the bill, and President Obama would likely veto the bill even if they did take it out. What this does say is the Republicans have fulfilled their campaign commitment and it sets up a second-tier process where they will try to pick apart the process bit by bit.
“The key members [to watch in this debate] would be the two leaders: the new speaker [Boehner] and the old speaker [Pelosi]... also, some of the... Republican freshmen who made repeal the cornerstone of their campaign. Of course, also in town this week will be some tea party members who believe that their movement was inspired by this. Lots of factors to watch this week.”
1:45 p.m. Meanwhile, Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are using Twitter to campaign their own sentiments on the repeal:
“RT @129 M: Americans who could be denied health coverage under GOP repeal due to a pre-existing condition http://wapo.st/hth0nS”