July 24th, 2009
02:28 PM ET
9 years ago

House Democrats splinter over health care

WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Democrats split sharply over the issue of health care reform Friday as a key committee chairman said he would not negotiate further with party conservatives worried about spiraling medical costs.

"We're not going to let them empower the Republicans. I don't see any other alternative," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-California.

Waxman's comments came shortly after a representative of a group of fiscally conservative House Democrats urged congressional leaders to slow the pace of health care deliberations.

Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross, a key member of the influential Blue Dog coalition, said he remains concerned that the legislation currently being pushed through the House of Representatives does not do enough to rein in health care inflation.

"This is fundamental change that's going to effect all 300 million people in America," Ross said on CNN's "American Morning."

"Let's not rush it. Let's slow down. Let's get it right and ensure that the American people get the kind of health care that they need and deserve."

The bill as currently drafted "doesn't do nearly enough to contain those costs (and) get after the kind of fundamental reforms and changes that we need in how we deliver and pay for health care," he said.

Ross reached an agreement with Obama and Waxman on Tuesday to create an independent council to set Medicare reimbursement rates as a way to help hold down costs.

Waxman told reporters on Capitol Hill that he is willing to keep talking with the Blue Dog conservatives, but also made clear he intends to move forward with the legislation. He said he would bypass a committee vote if necessary and bring the bill directly to the House floor for a final vote.

Legislation is typically approved by the relevant committees before being considered by the full House. On rare occasions, however, House leaders can remove a bill from a committee and bring it directly to a vote by the full House.

Waxman's committee is one of three House committees that is supposed to clear the health care bill; the other two have already done so.

On Thursday, the top Democrat in the U.S. Senate said the chamber won't vote on a health care reform bill until after the upcoming August recess.

The announcement by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada went against President Barack Obama's stated timetable for both the House and Senate to turn out bills before the August break. After Reid's statement, Obama said he would accept a delay so long as work toward passing a bill continued.

Obama met with Reid and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus at the White House Friday to discuss the state of the controversial bill.

–CNN's Dana Bash, Evan Glass, and Brianna Keilar contributed to this report

Filed under: Health care • House Democrats
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. David

    It's good to see some reps are wanting to slow this done and read all the fine print. Haven't we learned by now what happens when they run a bill through quickly? They obviously are covering something when that happens. And by the looks of this one, they were hiding something they don't want us to figure out.

    July 24, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  2. Ken

    The only real action to control cost is to restrict litigation. But the lawyers prop of the Democrat party, so any hint of litigation reform is lacking. This in not a health care bill, this is an unwelcomed takeover by government.

    July 24, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  3. mistake demos

    divide and the repubs are coming back

    July 24, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. James Warner

    Our senate is doing it's normal thing representing the lobbiests at the expence of the American Public. All i Know any more that there in not any compition between INSURANCE COMPANIES and they are highly profitable for wall street at the publics expence.

    July 24, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. Mark L.

    Meanwhile, as the House Democrats cannot reach some sort of consensus on the Health Care Reform legislation, another 12,000+ individuals have lost their Health Care today due to corrupt Corporate politics (i.e. – downsizing, restructuring, etc.)... Sometimes I truly wonder to myself, how did FDR and LBJ manage to get Congress to pass Social Security and Medicare reform legislation so easily?? Oh I know, back in those days the USA was made up of a much GREATER and SMARTER US House of Representatives and Senate as compared to the IDIOTS we've got running the show today !!

    July 24, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. phoenix86

    Democraps have a solid majority in both houses of congress, but the bill is so flawed that even the dems don't have the nerve to pass this monstrosity. Can't blame this on the republicans.

    July 24, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. Dustin

    "Slow down" and "Lets not rush it" are just stalling tactics by the corporatist "Blue Dogs" to kill the bill. These guys don't seem to stand for anything that doesn't get them re-elected. The sad thing is, they help keep the Dems in power because of their ability to hold conservative districts. I guess they'll get more time over their recess to raise giant amounts of cash for their campaigns this way. Opportunistic sell-outs... the whole lot. I hope Nancy can twist their arms enough to get us the reforms we need!!! The "Blue Dogs" should know, that if this healthcare reform fails and the Dems look like failures in Congress, they will be the first to lose their seat to a Republican in their conservative districts. They would do well to fall in line this time...

    July 24, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  8. Tim S

    Dateline 2012: Presidential candidates debated Health Care Reform again in their 3rd debate. As health care costs soared to 30% of the GDP, the exchanges grew testy at times... Republicans holding to their policy of no real need for change, Democrats again stressing the need for complete overhaul. The World watches, laughing their keisters off.

    July 24, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. judesuper

    This is bait and switch. Don't these dems remember that we've been here before? This is exactly how they shafted us last time. Instead of health care, we got NAFTA the shaft-ta. Remember?

    No more, get this done or get out. I have no problem voting against anyone that stood in the way of our public option health care reform. Yes, that includes all repubs, dems and even the President.

    July 24, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  10. Barbara Independent in NY

    Again, the Blue Dogs aren't really Democrats. They're just a bunch of selfish people that couldn't get the Republican nomination in their own districts and states.

    July 24, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  11. Scott L

    Unreal how Pelosi and Waxman are threatening their own party. Extreme leftist agenda being set here and they are trying to flex their power.

    It is going to backfire in their faces big time and I will be laughing.

    July 24, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  12. Gregory Carter

    I am apalled by the nature of this commentary. It is easy for white America to say that there is no problem with race relations in the U.S. A serious dialogue is needed in this country once and for all. It is about time that we as "so called Americans" actually lead the world in showing that we are a beacon of light for the rest of the world. I have good white and black friends (I am black). Some of whom I love and others I only want to deal with on a professional level. When we make one-sided comments whether white or black, this is wrong!!!!!

    July 24, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  13. howie

    Boy am I happy that we have a few Democrats with a little sense

    July 24, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  14. weneedachange

    Can I ask someone out there to explain something to me. I had brain surgery 3 years ago. Now I work for the government and is covered by a very good insurance company. My surgery only cost $85,000. This did not include my pre doctor visit or my post doctor visit. Now my question is this, If lets say a person who can not pay for private insurance like Joe the Plummer or Charlie the contractor or one of thier children fell out in the street, and then rushed into the nearest hospital for emergency brain surgery, WHO WOULD PAY FOR IT? Wouldn't the tax payer ? The same people whining about the President's health care plan. Maybe I'm wrong. Just walk into the nearest emergency room. I would bet that half of those people are without insurance and will not be turned away.

    July 24, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  15. Th3rdpwr

    So healthcare reform is projected to cost 1 trillion plus over ten years. This amounts to 100 billion dollars per year. Isn't that what the war in Iraq is costing? No one seemed to balk at that trillion dollars over ten years cost; least of all those "fiscally responsible" Republicans and blue dog Democrats. End the war and transfer the savings to healthcare.

    July 24, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  16. C. Bass

    I have to give it to the republicans, when it comes to getting things done they get them done for good or for bad.

    July 24, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  17. Emma

    We Democrats have proven that we vote and we have LONG memories. When you come seeking my vote, my question to you...........HOW DID OR DID YOU VOTE FOR HEALTH INSURANCE? Just know that I will already know the answer.

    How do you like your medical coverage that I am paying for out of my tax dollars? Do you like it enough to make it available to all of us?

    I can't hear you!!!!!

    July 24, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  18. JK Ashburn, VA

    I just love you political morons who refer to these blue-dogs as Republicans in sheeps clothing and hope they will not get re-elected. They are what they are because they are Democrats who happen, in most cases, to represent otherwise Republican districts. So, if they don't vote in some moderate or even conservative way, you'll get your wish — they won't get re-elected. And then a Republican will win the seat.

    And if you do the math, you'll discover that if the blue dogs are all replaced by Republicans, the Republicans will take over the House of Twits, er, I mean Representatives because there are simply (thankfully) not that many liberals willing to vote like liberals.

    July 24, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. The Party of HELL NO!

    Unfettered, unteathered Democrats on a full-scale socialist tear are the greatest campaign ad that money could never buy.

    America, since you've clearly forgotten what wild-eyed unhinged socialism looks like, take in a nice long gander. THIS is what you elected.

    2010 will be an electoral bloodbath.

    July 24, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  20. Seth

    We are the only industrialized country that refuses to give our people proper health care.
    I want the below things:
    1. Freedom to resign/fired/laid-off from my job and not have to worry about my family health care.
    2. Freedom to decide to start a new small business and not to be afraid to leave my old job because of health care.
    3. Freedom from worrying about a pre-existing condition causing me to lose/denied health insurance.
    4. freedom to ask my boss for a raise and not hear that my health insurance cost is too large for me to get a decent raise.
    5. Freedom from having to worry about insurance status when I am out of State.
    I am an American dammit, I shouldn't be nickled and dimes when it comes to the health of me and my family.

    July 24, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  21. Gator

    Go get em blue dogs.

    July 24, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  22. AJ

    Surprise, surprise!!

    July 24, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. George Arlington, TX.

    The Democrats should say that people making 1Mil will not qualify for the health care that is being hurled about for the low life , poor . Perhaps they will feel stigma and that will end their lies..

    July 24, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  24. yuri

    Now, that should be an interesting tussle, and Dems' dumb egos will surface, makin' a lot of senators sulk.

    July 24, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  25. Vic of New York

    To the "Blue Dog Democrats":

    I have something to tell you. I work in the financial industry. That's right, the one where all the fat cats get outrageous bonuses - only I don't.

    When there is a deadline to meet and there are insufficient resources to meet it, what the bosses say is "That's what weekends are for."

    I've got news for you. If it applies to me it applies to you. Got a lot of work to do to get that bill ready? Well, that's what the weekend's are for. You've had thirty years to think about it, now get our arsses in committee and give us a bill!

    July 24, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
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