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Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011: House of Representatives

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. EMERSON. Madam Chair, I yield myself 2 minutes.

Madam Chair, this amendment will prevent the appropriation of any funds in this act to implement or enforce the provisions within the health spending law that require the IRS to verify that individuals have health care coverage and impose penalties on those who don't comply.

The fate of this mandate in the courts is uncertain, but we know that it already has been ruled upon by the American people. They don't want and shouldn't suffer a mandate from government to engage in specific economic activity. As a matter of fact, my own State of Missouri passed a ballot initiative last August by a vote of 71 percent not to enforce the individual mandate.

This is the bright lights example of what's wrong with the health care law. It compels Americans to give up their freedoms, to render their choices, and part with their hard-earned money to support a system of health care designed by and run by the Federal Government through a maze of boards, committees, and bureaucrats.

No Americans should be forced to buy or purchase health insurance they neither want nor can afford, and the Federal Government has never based the purchase of a good or service as a condition of being a law-abiding citizen. The American people need some form of protection that the IRS will not begin to aggressively implement the individual mandate, and this measure ensures that it won't be implemented prior to the end of fiscal year 2011.

States, including my own, small businesses across the country, and individuals of their own volition deserve the chance to speak on this important matter in the courts before the law adds extraordinary new burdens to the fiscal responsibility of the State governments, forces small businesses to fire employees they value, and compels individuals to spend money they would rather save. For all these disconcerting reasons, I urge you to support this crucial amendment.

I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. SERRANO. I rise in opposition to the amendment.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from New York is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. SERRANO. I think before we go any further on this subject, we really have to understand what is happening here. The majority party would like to do away with the health care reform law, and the way to do that is exactly that way, to try to do away with the law. But they don't have the votes in both Houses to do that. So what they're trying to do is not fund provisions that have to go into place.

So at this moment what Mrs. Emerson is trying to do is say that no funds can be used to impose this mandate. Now, this particular part is going to get played out in the courts. So let's be honest: the courts will have to decide why it's okay to mandate that you have car insurance but not this particular issue. And there are going to be a lot of other issues that are going to be done. But the issue here is that they would like to legislate on this bill the end of health care. And that's just not going to happen.

Lastly, what this amendment does is speak to the larger issue, which is that in this country now we have a law that provides access to quality health care to all residents regardless of who they are, where they live, or their income. The only people who are upset about this bill, about this law, and have done a good job of telling the American people that this is the end of the world, are the insurance companies who now have to step up to the plate and follow the law.

So we know what this is about. We know what you are trying to accomplish, but it's not going to work. It's not going to work this way, and it's not going to work in rescinding the law.

Lastly, you know that every so often I give advice to the Republican Party because I like you. If you keep calling it ObamaCare, you know what's going to happen? It's going to make it through the courts, and 20 years from now you are going to have Social Security, Medicare, and ObamaCare, and you would have cemented his legacy forever. So we thank you for that, and I am sure the President thanks you.

I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Kind).

Mr. KIND. I thank my friend for yielding, and I rise in opposition to this amendment. The reason I do is as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, we had Commissioner Shulman before us talking about the IRS role in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. And he said virtually all of the additional funding that they will receive will be used for outreach efforts to inform small businesses of the tax cuts that they are now eligible to receive with the implementation of this law.

That means 16,000 small businesses in my district alone in western Wisconsin are receiving tax credits under the Affordable Care Act, making it more affordable for them to provide health care coverage to their workers.

And if you look at the 50 million uninsured individuals in this country every year, the bulk of them are working Americans, typically in small businesses or family farms who have a hard time providing health care coverage. And yet the IRS is going to be doing outreach to them to let them know the benefits they are eligible for, along with other individuals throughout the country, of what they are eligible for in the Affordable Care Act to make sure they receive quality, affordable health care coverage. That in essence would be the IRS role. And I think for that reason we should vote against this amendment.

Mrs. EMERSON. I continue to reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. SERRANO. How much time do I have, Madam Chair?

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from New York has 2 minutes remaining. The gentlewoman from Missouri has 3 minutes remaining.

Mr. SERRANO. I would like to yield 1 minute to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone).

Mr. PALLONE. Madam Chair, I would just like to point out, again, the gentlewoman's amendment is just like the others we've heard before. It is going to completely eliminate implementation of the health care reform because the bottom line is that, if this amendment were to pass, then all of the positive things that have already gone into place in terms of eliminating discrimination against preexisting conditions or the other discriminatory practices, like lifetime or annual caps, or the requirement that young people up to the age of 26 be able to get insurance coverage on their parents' policies, all of these things essentially depend on the mandate, because without the mandate, what happens is that insurance companies go back, again, to discriminatory practices. This is nothing more but an effort essentially to eliminate the health care reform. Whether it's defunded, whether it's eliminating the mandate or the other amendments that we're going to see later today because this is a package. And we all know, it's absolutely clear, that without the mandate, it is going to be impossible to carry out the coverage and the implementation of these important provisions that eliminate discrimination.

Mrs. EMERSON. At this time, Madam Chair, I yield 1 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Poe).

Mr. POE of Texas. I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

The issue is, is this constitutional? It's not whether it's a great idea, whether an individual mandate is going to save us all. The issue is whether it's constitutional. Now I do not believe the Constitution gives the Federal Government the authority to force an American to buy anything, whether it's health care insurance, whether it's a car, or whether it's a box of doughnuts. And if we allow the Congress to go in and force Americans to buy a product or be punished by paying a fee which is a fine, and if you don't pay the fine, you could be prosecuted under the IRS code and go to prison, then where does it stop? Where does Congress then stop its nonsense of forcing Americans to buy products all in the name of saving us all?

This portion is unconstitutional. We should not force Americans to buy any product. And we should defund the individual mandate for the simple reason it's unconstitutional. Let's talk about that issue in this discussion and debate on the House floor.

Mr. SERRANO. I yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from the great State of California.

Mr. GARAMENDI. Madam Chair, the issue before us is whether the IRS should be able to enforce the laws, in this case the health care laws. During the first decade of the 2000 period, there was enormous Medicare fraud going on. In the health care bill, additional agents were added to the IRS and other agencies to enforce the Medicare laws against fraud. This provision would defund that and make it impossible to enforce the laws and prevent Medicare fraud. A very bad idea.

I urge a ``no'' vote on the amendment.

Mrs. EMERSON. I continue to reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. DICKS. I rise to ask a question of the Chair. Who has the right to close on this amendment?

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from New York has the right to close.

Mrs. EMERSON. Madam Chair, parliamentary inquiry.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentlewoman will state her parliamentary inquiry.

Mrs. EMERSON. Is it not correct that I would have the right to close?

The Acting CHAIR. The manager in opposition would be entitled to close.

Mrs. EMERSON. Madam Chair, I yield myself the balance of my time.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentlewoman from Missouri is recognized for 2 minutes.

Mrs. EMERSON. Number one, my colleague tried to make a comparison between car insurance and health insurance. First of all, auto insurance, if you will, deals with liability and the harm that you may do to others. Health insurance has to do with a liability to yourself. It's totally different. And I don't believe that any State actually requires comprehensive insurance. The bottom line is, we do not want the IRS implementing now regulations that may be overturned perhaps in the near future in the courts.

At the end of the day, we do not know what the courts are going to say about the constitutionality of an individual mandate. And as such, it seems irresponsible for the Internal Revenue Service, when it has so many demands on its time and on its employees, to implement something that we don't know whether or not it's actually going to become the law of the land. So with that, I believe very strongly that the IRS should not be spending those moneys in FY 2011, and we will deal with 2012 at the time when it comes up.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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