Looking To September, Lawmakers Focus On Health Reform Messages, Measures
House Republicans are preparing for September and planning to depict Democratic attempts to reform the health care system as "potentially ruinous to small businesses," CQ Politics reports.
Republican Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia "told reporters the GOP would continue to offer alternatives on health care and the economic recovery. 'If we're going to oppose what [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and the administration are doing, we're going to proffer coherent counterproposals that we believe make more sense,' Cantor said."
On the issue of health care reforms, the GOP continues to oppose "liberal Democrats' push for a government-run health plan to compete with private insurers, and argues that House Democratic leaders' call for a surtax on individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $250,000 would hurt small-business owners." House Republicans, as an alternative, "are promoting less ambitious measures. ... Cantor said that Republicans have not yet decided whether to offer a detailed substitute amendment as an alternative to the House Democratic health plan (HR 3200), or pursue a more narrowly targeted motion to recommit the Democratic bill" (Ota, 8/18).
Other members of Congress are still focused on town hall meetings.
Politico: Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker said Americans have been "awakened" by protesters to the health care reform debate: "'That is a great thing,' Corker said of the conservative energy demonstrated in recent town halls opposing President Barack Obama's plan for a health care overhaul during a town hall of his own at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press" (Barr, 8/17).
Blue Dogs, the fiscally conservative Democrats from the House, are using conference calls instead of public meetings to talk to constituents, Roll Call reports: "Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.) was one of the few Blue Dogs to meet publicly with her constituents this weekend. On Saturday, she tried to "to separate fact from fiction...." Rep. Bart Gordon (Tenn.) originally planned only to host conference calls but ultimately scheduled two in-person appearances. However, other Blue Dogs are choosing to speak with constituents over the phone, including Reps. Earl Pomeroy (N.D.), Walt Minnick (Idaho), Glenn Nye (Va.) and Dennis Moore (Kan.)" (Miller, 8/17).
Sen. Olympia Snowe, of Maine, has seen little anger over her recess, despite being in the middle of negotiations on reform in the Senate Finance Committee, The Boston Globe reports. "Mainers are treating their popular senior senator with characteristic Yankee restraint. Public meetings are respectful, protesters virtually absent. Special-interest groups on the right and the left that have helped organize mass protests elsewhere are treating Snowe gingerly" (Wangsness, 8/18).
Meanwhile, CongressDaily reports that House action on reform likely won't happen until late September. "House staffers are working to merge the three versions of the overhaul that emerged from the Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor committees. They will also have to contend with a second bill from Energy and Commerce, which will meet next month to consider amendments that members did not address before the August recess" (Hunt and House, 8/17).