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Public Statements

Health Care

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the debate over health care continues, and this week all eyes are on the House. All we hear about is the arm-twisting and the horse-trading going on over there behind the scenes--the mad dash ahead of the big vote--and once again Americans just can't believe what they are hearing.

Behind all of these stories is a simple truth: Democratic leaders are doing everything they can to convince a handful of lawmakers that they should vote for a bill they don't really like and which their constituents overwhelmingly oppose. They are scrambling to get these wavering House Members to vote for a bill which claims to be reform but which promises to lead to higher health care costs, higher insurance premiums, and a vast expansion of government's role in our daily lives. They are pulling out all the stops. They are doing everything they can to jam this bill through, and they don't even seem to care anymore about how ugly it all looks.

What we are seeing is nothing more than a replay of the same revolting process Democrats used to pass this bill in the Senate, a process that completely outraged the public. The same deals they used to get this bill through the Senate are back. As if voting on these deals the first time wasn't bad enough, Democrats in the House are now getting ready to vote for them again. Every one of the deals that were so revolting to the American people will still be in the bill House Members are expected to vote on later this week. That means that anybody who votes for this bill will be voting in favor of the special deals that were put there for no other reason than to sway votes.

A handful of Democrats have stood up in opposition to these deals and this entire process. One longtime Democratic Congressman said last week that he won't be voting for the bill as a result of the deals. Here is what he had to say. This Democratic Congressman said:

I reject unequivocally the unsavory deal making that took place in the Senate where Nebraska, Florida, and Louisiana obtained special benefits that do not apply to the other States and those special benefits provided to those States at the expense of the residents of all other States. I simply cannot support legislation that contains those unwarranted giveaways to a select few States at the expense of others.

That was a Democratic Member of the House of Representatives.

But others are keeping quiet. They are still on the fence. That is why this week's vote promises to be even uglier than the last one, because this bill goes beyond things such as the ``Cornhusker kickback'' and the ``Louisiana purchase'' and the ``Gator aid.''

I was disappointed to see the White House reverse itself over the weekend and endorse many of these sweetheart deals after the President said he would try to have them removed. Apparently, they determined that removing the deals might jeopardize efforts to pass the bill. So now the White House says it won't object to all of the special deals, just some of them. The White House says it won't object to all the special deals, just some of them. What that means, of course, is that some Senators and House Members are getting special deals on top of special deals.

But that is not all the White House is willing to do to jam this bill through. According to press reports, it is also promising to raise campaign cash for House Members who vote for the House bill. We read in one of the papers today that the White House is openly signaling that those lawmakers will go to the top of the list for fundraisers and Presidential visits ahead of the November elections. So if press accounts are accurate, lawmakers who support the bill are being told they get repaid with Presidential visits and big-money fundraisers from the President or the Vice President--vote for the bill and you get a special visit for your reelection campaign.

We also read this morning in the Politico Pulse that the drug lobbyists were here in the Capitol over the weekend huddling with Democratic staffers to make sure their interests would be protected in the final bill.

This is precisely the kind of thing Americans rebelled against after the last vote on this bill. This debate should be about the substance of a bill that would restructure one-sixth of our economy and the direction Americans want to go in as a country, not how much money such-and-such Senator or Congressman needs in order to vote for it.

It is especially disappointing that this particular White House is supporting all this. After the ``Cornhusker kickback'' and the other special deals, the administration had an opportunity to distance itself from this process, to hit the reset button, and to work toward a bill Americans could be proud of. Unfortunately, in its desperation to force this bill through, the White House is reverting to the anything-goes approach, and the result is predictable: Americans won't like this bill any more than they liked the last one. They have issued their verdict about this bill and this process. They don't like either one. And once again, the only people who don't seem to get it are the Democrats here in Washington.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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