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Republicans Say Health Vote Could Return Them to Majority Status

Updated: 11:21 a.m.

Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) suggested on Sunday that passage by House Democrats of a health care reform bill Saturday night could result in a GOP takeover of Congress.

“I think the American people are deeply frustrated with a liberal establishment in Washington, D.C.,— Pence said. “If the Democrats keep ignoring the American people, their party is going to be history in about a year.—

Pence appeared on “Fox News Sunday— along with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.), who said Democrats were responding to the “message— voters sent during the 2008 election, when he said people voted to have Washington move on long-festering issues and “begin a fix for what has been a broken health care system.—

Also appearing in a separate interview was Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), who confirmed that he will vote to block the Senate version of the health care bill. Lieberman reiterated his opposition to including a public option in the bill, but he indicated that removing it would not satisfy him, since he is even more concerned about the spending in the bill.

“I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote, because I believe that it can break America and send us into— a depression, Lieberman said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the House bill is “dead on arrival— in the Senate. “It was written by liberals for liberals,— charged Graham, who along with Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.— Graham added that “people like Joe Lieberman aren’t going to get anywhere near the House bill.—

Reed dodged a question about whether the Senate could pass legislation that included a public option — which was part of the House bill — saying, “I hope that the public option is part of the final bill.—

Reed noted that there continues to be discussion about how a public option might be formed in the Senate bill, suggesting the possibility of appealing to Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) with a version of the idea she could support.

Pence and Van Hollen sparred over which election — 2008 or 2009 — had sent a “message— to Congress and the president, with Pence arguing the GOP victories in the 2009 gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey signaled unhappiness with Democratic rule in Washington. He acknowledged that Republicans had “doubled— the national debt when they controlled Congress, but he said Democrats with their efforts — including the health care bill — had put the process “on steroids.—

Van Hollen retorted that Democrats had won in the two Congressional races, where he said the focus was on federal instead of parochial state issues. He noted that President Barack Obama had inherited an economy that was “in freefall— and that the country had finally rebounded to positive economic growth in the third quarter of this year.

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