There was a marathon voting session in the House of Representatives yesterday with votes on amendments to the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill — those amendments that survived the night of the long knives, that is. Democrats shut down the House Wednesday night and stripped most of the amendments from consideration, including one that would have forced a vote on funding an investigation into the validity of allegations by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that the CIA lied to Congress.
Some notable wins and losses include the successful effort by Mike Rogers (R-Mich.). His proposal, offered as a motion to recommit, would prohibit any funds under the act being used to provide Miranda rights to terrorist detainees in the custody of U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan. The motion passed by voice vote. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) supported the measure.
“Terrorists who want to kill Americans and destroy our way of life should not be granted the same rights as American citizens,” Boehner said. “I am pleased House Democrats joined Republicans to send a clear message to the Obama administration that terrorists should not be given Miranda rights and an opportunity to take advantage of the U.S. legal system. As this legislation is finalized, House Democrats who supported this proposal must ensure it remains a part of the bill ultimately sent to the President’s desk. Let’s be clear: terrorism is not a law enforcement issue. That is a pre-9/11 mentality that helped pave the way for deadliest terrorist strike in American history, and granting terrorists Miranda rights would be a significant blow to our efforts to defeat the terrorist threat.”
The House also voted to reject a measure that would bar the use of Commerce and Justice Department funding to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and to move terrorists into the United States. The vote was lost by a 212-213 margin with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) casting the deciding vote against the measure (see the vote breakdown here).
Health Care Debate Continues to Rage
The Republican Health Care Solutions Group, chaired by Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), this week unveiled the outline of its heath care plan. Focusing on finding ways to increase accessibility to affordable health care, the group offered differing incentives, tax breaks and credits to make health care available to American citizens on a much broader scale. The outline is broad and can be found here (pdf).
Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Ways & Means, pointed out this week that in the Democrat plans to ensure the “poor” have medical coverage, two state governors would qualify for public assistance for their health care coverage.
According to the Camp release, “The ‘Affordable Health Choices Act,’ as outlined by Senator Chris Dodd, makes Americans earning up to four hundred percent of poverty ($43,320 for an individual in 2009; $88,200 for a family of four) eligible for taxpayer subsidies to get health coverage. Under the Kennedy-Dodd bill, both Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and Maine Governor John Baldacci would appear to be eligible for such assistance. According to the 2008 Council of States Governments, Ritter (who has a wife and four children) earns $90,000 and Baldacci (who has a wife and one child) earns $70,000.”
“At a time when millions of American families are struggling with their health bills, it is irresponsible that Democrats in Congress want to throw hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars at those who currently have the means to purchase coverage on their own,” Camp said. “Instead, we should be focusing on real solutions that drive down the cost of health care, expand access to affordable health care options for all Americans, and target assistance at those who actually need it.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) yesterday addressed myriad concerns over the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) health care bill sponsored by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.). Only a partial bill has been dragged out into the light of day which allowed for only a partial analysis from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The bill is already in markup in the HELP committee, which has caused a flood of criticism from Republicans who rightly raise the issue of the ability to properly mark a bill that is incomplete and without any reliable indications of the full scope of cost to the American taxpayer.
“Americans have good reason to be concerned about what this bill would cost,” McConnell said from the Senate floor. “The Congressional Budget Office estimates that just a portion of the HELP Committee bill would spend $1.3 trillion over ten years. And that doesn’t even include major portions of the final proposal, including a massive expansion of Medicaid that will cost untold billions of dollars.”
“These are staggering amounts of money for taxpayers to contemplate, which is why it’s troubling to a lot of people when we see committee members in such a rush to pass this legislation before the Congressional Budget Office even has a chance to fully estimate its cost,” McConnell continued. “On something as important to the American people as health care reform, cost and effectiveness should be a higher priority than speed.”
The latest Wall Street Journal poll (pdf) shows very soft support for Obama’s plans for a government takeover of health care. The figures show 33% in favor of the yet to be released Obama plan, 32% opposed, 30% with no opinion and 3% not sure. Of those who had an opinion, those in support have remained constant at 33% since last polled in April and those opposed has grown by 6% in that same time period.
The survey of 1,008 adults was conducted June 12-15, before the CBO price tag hit media reports on June 16.