Childers: ‘No’ to health reform

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, D-Booneville, says he will say “no” to President Barack Obama’s health care bill when it comes up for a vote.
Childers, whose decision was not known until about 3 p.m. Thursday, has been under strong pressure from conservative constituent groups to vote against it and from Democratic House leaders to support it.
“After months of debate, I still don’t believe we’ve gotten it right,” he said shortly after final details of the plan were released.
Earlier in the day, the former Prentiss County chancery clerk telegraphed his decision when he voted against setting aside a House resolution that would have required an up-or-down tally on the Senate health bill.
The resolution passed 222-203 and halted a Republican effort to block Democrats’ preferred method for getting a reform measure through the chamber.
Thursday, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported that an emerging compromise on health care between House and Senate Democrats would cost $940 billion over the next decade and expand insurance coverage to an additional 32 million Americans.
CBO also said that new revenue in the package, combined with program cut savings, would outpace the cost of coverage and reduce the federal deficit by $138 billion over the next 10 years.
In his statement, Childers said he knows his decision is controversial. “Some disagree with this decision, and I respect that.
“This has always been about doing what’s best for the people north Mississippi. Their thoughts and concerns have been fundamental to my decision-making and I take them to heart.”
Childers, who is in his first full term and faces a tough re-election fight, also said he decided to vote against the health care bill because of its “large price tag” and lack of tough language to prohibit federal funding of abortion.
At issue is whether the Senate bill is explicit enough in its restrictions on federal funds for abortions. Republicans say it isn’t, pointing for example to a section of the bill that would provide funds to community health centers that can provide abortions.
Still, Childers says he wants “effective, fiscally responsible health care reform” and will continue to work for it.
Media reports say the House health care vote could come as early as Sunday. Obama put off a foreign trip until June so that he could continue lobbying Congress for passage.
Childers’ “no” vote Thursday was against setting aside a resolution by Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama that would have prevented Democrats from using a “deem and pass” strategy to approve the Senate measure.
Under this scenario, the House would “deem” the Senate bill passed when the chamber approves the rule governing debate for health care, and then would vote on a package of “fixes” to the Senate bill negotiated between the two chambers.
Voting with Childers against the resolution were Mississippi congressmen Gene Taylor, D-Bay St. Louis, and Gregg Harper, R-Brandon.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Bolton, voted with the majority.

Contact Patsy Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.