Throughout the day and entire night of July 16, 2009, the House Education and Labor Committee debated legislation known as "America's Affordable Health Care Choices Act." Ultimately, the Committee approved the bill by a vote of 26-22 with few substantive changes. Representative Todd Platts voted against the bill. His opening statement at the mark-up follows. The bill must still be approved by the full House as well as the Senate in order to become law:
"Thank you, Chairman Miller and Ranking Member Kline. Over the next two days, our committee will be marking up the America's Affordable Health Choices Act.' As we consider health care reform, let me begin by stating that most of us readily agree that reining in health care costs and expanding access to the health care system for all Americans must be top considerations when discussing any proposed reforms. However, we must also abide by the physician's guiding principal, First, do no harm,' in choosing the particular reforms we embrace.
I am deeply concerned about many aspects of this over one-thousand page bill, including its cost to employers and the likelihood it will move countless Americans involuntarily from private health insurance to a government-run program. There are a number of amendments expected to be offered by my colleagues on this committee that aim to protect aspects of our current health care system that are working for many Americans. Approximately 62 percent of American workers are covered by an employer-provided health care plan, and many of them are pleased with their current coverage. It is absolutely imperative that these workers are able to maintain their coverage without consequences resulting from the federal government altering the employer-provided health care structure.
We must also ensure that small businesses can afford health insurance for their employees. Currently, about 23 million of the uninsured in America work for firms having fewer than 100 employees. An integral piece of reform should include allowing small businesses to join together across state lines to purchase health insurance through Association Health Plans (AHPs), thus obtaining the same uniform regulation, economies of scale, and administrative efficiencies that large companies currently enjoy.
Ultimately, as we move forward we must aim to build upon the existing health care system, expanding it to more employees and families, rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all health care system that jeopardizes the care of those who already have insurance. There is no single silver bullet' to address our health care needs. We must approach the health care issue in a comprehensive manner, but always remain mindful of the unintended consequences that can follow good intentions."
Statement on House Passage of Cap and Trade Legislation
On June 26, 2009, Congressman Todd Platts voted "no" on a so-called "cap and trade" bill that came before the full United States House of Representatives for a vote. While the overall measure passed by a margin of 219-212, it must still be approved by the Senate. Congressman Platts' statement to explain his vote follows:
"As the lead Republican sponsor of the first increase in fuel efficiency standards signed into law in over 30 years and of legislation that ensures that America is generating a quarter of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025, I have been committed during my service in Congress to decreasing our reliance on foreign oil and promoting good environmental stewardship. The cap and trade' legislation (H.R. 2454) that came before the House of Representatives today, however, does not achieve these worthy goals in a fiscally responsible and balanced manner. Rather, H.R. 2454 will harm our already struggling economy by increasing costs on consumers and driving American manufacturing jobs to countries with less stringent environmental safeguards.
I voted against passage of the cap and trade' bill because, especially at a time when our country is experiencing record high unemployment rates, we should not be adopting policies that would likely create further hardships for American businesses and families. Under the bill, manufacturers and other employers in the United States would be expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 80%. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the cost of the bill to the private sector as being $846 billion over the next ten yearsbefore the strictest provisions of the bill even begin. Yet, there is great uncertainty about the amount of good the bill would even accomplish.
China is already the lead emitter of greenhouse gases, and India is quickly increasing its emissions. The cap and trade' bill would do nothing to slow this trend. In fact, this legislation will likely even accelerate this trend by sending jobs from Americawhere environmental standards are higherto China and India.
I will continue to strongly support sensible efforts to promote conservation, to further develop traditional domestic sources of energy in an environmentally-protective manner, and for the continuing development of alternative and renewable energy supplies. Such an approach is a responsible alternative that would protect our economy while charting a long-term energy policy that sustains our environment for future generations."