Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX/4) continued his opposition to the Democrats' health care reform by voting "no" on the Senate health care bill and "no" on the Reconciliation bill in votes late Sunday evening in the House of Representatives, but the Democratic majority prevailed along party lines. The Senate bill passed by a vote of 219 - 212, with all Republicans and 34 Democrats voting against it. The Reconciliation bill passed by a vote of 220 - 211, with all Republicans and 33 Democrats voting "no."
House action on the Senate bill clears it for signing by the President, but the Reconciliation bill is still subject to Senate consideration and the Senate's normal amendment process. Whether the Senate passes the Reconciliation bill remains unclear, and that process could take weeks. If the Senate fails to pass the Reconciliation bill, the underlying Senate bill would be the law of the land.
"In all my years in Congress, I've never seen anything like this where the President and the Democrats in Congress don't care what the majority of the people want," said Hall. "It's a hard deal -- but we're going to take them on at every hedgerow for the rest of the year."
"A reform bill of this magnitude -- one that affects all Americans and a significant portion of our economy -- should have the support of a majority of Americans and bipartisan support in Congress," Hall said. "Unfortunately, the Democrats were not interested in a bipartisan bill, and they used special favors to gain the votes of wavering Democrats and cram their reform bill through Congress."
"If Republicans take the Floor back next year, I would favor subpoenaing those who may have bribed these Members and put them under oath," Hall said. "Offering a bribe is as criminal as accepting one, and we need to see what was offered in exchange for votes."
"This is not a good plan for Americans," Hall said. "Families and small businesses deserve access to high-quality, affordable health coverage. Medical decisions should be made by patients and their doctors -- not by government bureaucrats. The Democrats' plan is a trillion dollar government takeover of health care that raises premiums, raises taxes, rations care, costs jobs, cuts Medicare, drives millions out of the coverage they currently have, and paves the way for federally funded abortions."
This plan also will pass financial burdens to States, including Texas. In a conference call with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Hall said that Abbott raised the prospect of Texas joining other States in raising a constitutional challenge to the reform bill. Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and Speaker Joe Straus also wrote to the Texas Delegation on Sunday, urging them to vote "no" on this bill that will increase the burden on Texas taxpayers by an additional $24.3 billion over 10 years in Medicaid spending.
"Another critical concern with this bill is the provision that will allow abortions under at least one of the Federal plans," Hall said. "For pro-life Americans like me, this is unacceptable." Democrats maintain that this issue can be resolved by an Executive Order from the White House prohibiting federal funding for abortions. However, legal experts at the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, National Right to Life Committee, Americans United for Life, and Family Research Council contend that no Executive Order can override a statutory mandate unless Congress passes a law that specifically prohibits federal funding from being used in this manner. Republicans attempted to ensure that the Hyde language regarding abortion remains the law of the land by offering a Motion to Recommit the bill with the corrections. The motion failed by a vote of 199 -- 232, with all Republicans and 21 Democrats voting "yes."
"This bill also puts at risk the health care programs for our Veterans and our Senior Citizens," Hall said. "It does not fully protect the health care programs provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the military's Tricare system, and it cuts spending on Medicare and Medicare Advantage, reducing benefits for our seniors."
The Republicans offered some 80 amendments to be made in order by the Rules Committee, but the Democratic majority on the Rules Committee rejected all of these, voting instead to limit debate by passing a "closed rule" for consideration of the legislation. Hall offered two amendments, one to require a social security number for eligibility to participate in an insurance exchange and another to require a valid photo ID to apply for Medicaid or SCHIP, but these were rejected on a 4 to 9 party-line vote.
"An overwhelming majority of my constituents are opposed to this bill, and on their behalf, I will continue to fight its implementation and fight for its repeal," Hall said. "I voted my district, and I am disappointed that many Members of Congress chose not to do so.