What: All Issues : Health Care : Access to Health Insurance : (H.R. 4213) On an amendment eliminating a provision in legislation intended to help laid-off workers that extended health benefits for jobless Americans. The amendment also divided the bill into two separate sections, each to be voted on separately (One section blocked a 21% cut in Medicare payments to physicians, and the other section contained the rest of the bill.) (2010 house Roll Call 322)
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(H.R. 4213) On an amendment eliminating a provision in legislation intended to help laid-off workers that extended health benefits for jobless Americans. The amendment also divided the bill into two separate sections, each to be voted on separately (One section blocked a 21% cut in Medicare payments to physicians, and the other section contained the rest of the bill.)
house Roll Call 322     May 28, 2010
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This was a vote on an amendment eliminating a provision in legislation intended to help laid-off workers that extended health benefits for jobless Americans. The amendment was not offered to the bill itself, but to the resolution that allowed the House to debate and vote on the bill. Such resolutions typically set a time limit for debate and determine which amendments can be offered to legislation. In rare cases, however, these resolutions can make substantive changes to the underlying bill. This was such a case. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) offered this amendment.

Democrats were trying to pass legislation to help unemployed Americans. Republicans and conservative Democrats opposed the measure, objecting to the bill’s overall cost. Thus, Democratic leaders were forced to water down the measure in order to attract support from conservative Democrats. Thus, Democratic leaders reduced the bill’s price tag by eliminating health benefits for laid-off workers. They also divided the bill into two different sections, each to be voted on separately. One section blocked a 21% cut in Medicare payments to physicians, and the other section contained the rest of the bill. This strategy allowed members to vote in favor of extending unemployment insurance, and against blocking cuts in physician payments, or vice versa.
No debate occurred on the amendment. Republicans, however, had voiced their displeasure earlier in the day with being confronted with last minute changes to the bill under this legislative procedure. Rep. Pete Sessions said: “Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic majority promised the American people that they would run the most open, honest, and ethical Congress. To date, this Congress and I think the last one has seen more backroom deals, arm twisting, and more partisan negotiations than ever before. I think the American people are fed up with it. They want transparency, they want accountability, and I think what they are looking for is solutions. Standing up and touting this bill when nobody even knows what's in it and how great it is, I think, a sham.”

The House agreed to Slaughter’s amendment by a vote of 215-106. 215 Democrats – including a majority of progressives -- voted “yea.” All 172 Republicans present and 34 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House eliminated a provision in legislation intended to help laid-off workers that extended health benefits for jobless Americans – and divided the bill into two separate sections, each to be voted on separately.

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