Democrats Lift Hold on GOP Health Care Mailing

Posted August 3, 2009 at 5:09pm

House Democrats agreed late last week to allow Republicans to send their constituents a mailing critical of the majority’s health care bills, after a two-week delay caused by Democratic allegations that the mailing was inaccurate.The mailing was approved Friday night after a meeting between Franking Commission Chairwoman Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), the top Republican on the Franking Commission, according to a GOP aide. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also attended the meeting to help mediate between Davis and Lungren as they worked out a compromise, a senior Democratic aide said. The dispute centered on a chart created by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Republican staff of the Joint Economic Committee to illustrate the organization of the Democratic health care plan. The chart illustrates the Democratic plan as a daunting tangle of agencies and bureaucratic procedures.“Over the last couple of weeks there has been much discussion about the Republican Joint Economic Committee Health Care Chart,— said an e-mail sent Monday to Republicans from the GOP House Administration Committee staff. “We are pleased to report that the Democratic Members have removed their objections to using the chart.—Kyle Anderson, a spokesman for the House Administration Committee, confirmed that the chart was approved and said Republicans agreed to Democrats’ request that the chart be labeled as having been produced by Brady and Republican staff members.The committee has oversight of the Franking Commission.Anderson added that the commission staff would meet during the August recess to resolve any ambiguities in the existing franking rules to limit future confusion. Congressional rules for franked mail bar Members from using taxpayer-funded mail for newsletters that use “partisan, politicized or personalized— comments to criticize legislation or policy.After learning their requests to send out the chart were being delayed, House Republicans launched a series of protests, including introducing of a resolution last week on the House floor that blasted Democrats for censoring GOP communication with their constituents. The House Republican Conference included a photo of the chart as the cover of its August district work period information packet and encouraged Members to talk about Democratic efforts to censor their criticism of the majority’s plans. Democrats fired back that Republicans were politically posturing while Democrats on the Franking Commission worked “diligently and in good faith— to resolve the problem “without political rancor and with an eye on integrity and honesty.—