Republicans Continue to Challenge Health Bill
Republicans continued to rail against Senate Democrats’ $848 billion health care bill, despite having all the drama taken out of Saturday’s vote thanks to a decision by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) to back the start of debate.Lawmakers marched to the Senate floor Saturday to partake in the daylong debate over whether the Senate should begin an actual debate of Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) bill. Democrats demanded the start of the long-awaited fight, while Republicans countered that the bill is an expensive expansion of federal powers and that a vote to start debate is tantamount to supporting its final passage.“My Democratic colleagues are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to say this is not a vote for the bill. That is not what the American people think,— Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Saturday, adding that “the time for maximum leverage [with Reid] would have been prior to tonight’s vote.—Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) argued that the bill will cost significantly more than Democrats have let on, comparing it to layaway, the practice used by consumers to purchase goods over time. “This is a layaway claim. This is Harry Reid’s layaway plan for this holiday season,— Burr said.Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) also claimed the bill will have a negative effect on rural hospitals and clinics, complaining that Reid and others behind the legislation have not taken small communities into account.“Who are these people talking to? They aren’t talking to the administrators or the doctors or the nurses or the community leaders who are leading the drive— to keep these providers afloat, he said.“If they did, they’d get an earful,— Johanns added.