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Lawmakers Battling to Summer’s End Over Health Care

As some lawmakers invoked the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) legacy to urge passage of a health care overhaul this fall, opponents and advocates of a public health insurance option continued to battle it out at town halls this weekend.

On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) held a tele-town hall with constituents, despite some criticism for not holding an in-person event.

Reid told callers he chose that format because boisterous crowds at live town halls distracted from the substance of the debate.

“They would rather see on TV a fight that takes 30 seconds, people yelling at each other,— he said, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Texas Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Texas) held the second of three scheduled town halls Saturday. Edwards had planned to hold teleconferences, but set up the live meetings after being criticized for his original decision, according to News 8 Austin. Like Reid, Edwards said he was concerned about the event getting out of hand. But he told the crowd at Saturday’s meeting that he recognized the value of the town halls.

“I learn something from each meeting and I can do a better job at evaluating this bill with the result of all these meetings,— he said.

Republican Members continued to push back against the public health insurance option at their own town-hall gatherings.

According to the Rapid City Journal, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) expressed concern over the price tag of the proposed plan as well as concerns about government funding of abortions.

“No health care reform would be better than that health care reform,— Thune said of the proposed health care package.

Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) spoke to a group of mostly senior citizens, expressing his concern about increased government involvement in health care, according to the Williamson County Conservative Examiner.

“I want you and your doctor to make decisions for you, not the government,— he said.

Several other legislators continued the health care conversation with their constituents, including Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and David Vitter (La.) and Reps. Parker Griffith (D-Ala.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

See a list of today’s Congressional town halls at Congress.org.

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