This was on a motion to move to an immediate vote on the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for debating H.R. 3962, a major health care bill. It was the first of a series of votes on the health care bill. Before the House considers most significant measures, it first must approve a rule for the legislation. The rule for H.R. 3962 allowed almost no amendments to be offered. These restrictions on amendments and more importantly the substance of the legislation itself were cited by the Republican minority as the reason for opposing the rule and the motion to move to an immediate vote on it.
Rep. Posey (R-FL) objected to what he called “the lack of transparency about what it is specifically that we are voting on.” He argued “that when the Congress considers changes of this magnitude which will affect 17 percent of our entire economy, we should have more transparency and openness . . . Over 200 amendments were filed to this 2,000-page bill. Sadly, out of these 200 amendments, only 1 is allowed to be offered.”
Supporters of the legislation argued, among other things, that all Americans should be entitled to adequate health care insurance coverage regardless of their economic or health condition, and that the bill would guarantee that they get that coverage. Rep. Slaughter (D-NY) was leading the effort in support of the rule and the motion to bring it to an immediate vote. She said that: “(S)ince 2000, employer-sponsored health insurance premiums for American families have more than doubled . . . If we do nothing, as my Republican friends want to do, family premiums will increase an average of $1,800 every year and the number of uninsured will reach 61 million people by 2020.”
Rep. McGovern (D-Mass), another supporter, argued that the Republican solution to the health care situation is to “‘take two tax breaks and call me in the morning.’” He claimed: “(F)or 12 years, Republicans had their chance to improve health care in America, and for 12 years they let the number of uninsured skyrocket, while letting the insurance companies make money hand-over-fist . . . With the passage of this bill, we stand for the uninsured, for the underinsured, for those discriminated against by insurance companies because they have preexisting conditions or because of their gender.”
Opponents countered that the bill would prove to be too costly, ultimately raise insurance premiums, mandate an inappropriate tax increase, reduce Medicare benefits, and give the federal government too large a role in individual health care decisions. Rep. Barrett (R-SC) said the bill “essentially amounts to . . . a government takeover of the health care system, which will result in devastating consequences for families and small businesses across the country. This massive government expansion will cost nearly $1.3 trillion, which is offset with job-killing tax increases. Small businesses will be hardest hit by these tax increases . . . .”
Rep. Bishop (R-Utah), another opponent, said the impact of the bill “would be a permanent shift of power to the federal government to control our daily lives and our health care decisions.”
The motion carried by a vote of 247-187. All two hundred and forty-seven “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Ten other Democrats joined all one hundred and seventy-seven Republicans and voted “nay”. As a result, the House moved to an immediate vote on the rule setting the terms for debating major health care legislation.