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House Health Care Debate Slogs On Along Party Lines

The House on Saturday continued its slog through hours of debate on the Democratic health care bill, with proponents hailing the plan to expand affordable care and opponents warning against a massive government takeover of health care.

One after another, Republicans lined up to bash the bill for mimicking expensive, government-run health care systems. “We should never support a children-bankrupting, health-care-rationing, freedom-crushing, $1 trillion government takeover of our health care system,— said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).

“This bill replaces the American ideal with a European-style social welfare state,— said Budget ranking member Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). “This is about ideology.—

The Democratic plan “bulldozes individual liberty and puts government just where it doesn’t belong: right smack dab in the middle of your personal health care decisions,— Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) said.

Democrats, meanwhile, leaned on personal experiences to highlight the need for a health care system overhaul.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), a breast cancer survivor, said if she were to lose her job today, “I could not buy health insurance coverage tomorrow because I have a pre-existing condition.—

Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) reminded his sophomore class that they were elected “to come and change the direction of this country. That is exactly what this bill does. … This bill will do what we should have done 100 years ago.—

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights icon, invoked former President John F. Kennedy in asking his colleagues to “be not afraid. The time is always right to do what is right.—

One thing both parties had in common was the use of children as props in making their case for or against the sweeping health care overhaul.

Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) held up a baby, Maddie, who “believes in freedom— and “asks to come here to say she doesn’t want government to take over health care … She doesn’t want her mom’s taxes to go up by $730 billion, do you, Maddie?—

Later, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) herded two children onto the floor with him as he declared that his “top priority for 37 years— has been the passage of affordable health care for generations to come.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) called attention to Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-Mich.) amendment to impose a ban on abortion coverage for any insurance plan in the exchange paid for with a federal subsidy — a provision that could make or break passage of the bill.

Boehner warned that Democratic leaders might be playing “a shell game— by agreeing to a vote on the amendment but planning to strip it from the bill at a later date. He asked Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) to “guarantee— that, if the amendment is adopted, it would stay in the bill when it comes back from conference.

“Have you ever gotten a guarantee like that from anybody since you’ve been here? No,— said Rangel.

Pro-choice Democrats were infuriated that party leaders decided early this morning to allow a vote on the Stupak amendment, which has bipartisan support and a good chance of passing.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said he first learned about the planned vote on the Stupak amendment from his wife, who called him this morning at 5:30 to say how angry she was.

“She said, ‘What the f— are you doing?’— said Grijalva, who predicted the amendment would pass with the help of about 50 Democrats. “We’ll get some s— back home from this one.—

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