This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) prohibiting federal funds from being used to pay the salary of any federal employee to implement or enforce a major health care reform law enacted in 2010. This amendment was offered to a continuing resolution funding the federal government through September 2011, and cutting $61 billion in federal funding for many government programs.
The healthcare reform measure that Republicans sought to derail was strongly supported by President Obama, and he signed it into law in March 2010. The law (which Republicans derided as “ObamaCare”) imposed a requirement that most Americans have health insurance, and was estimated to expand insurance coverage to 95% of the U.S. population. Employers with more than 50 workers were required to provide health insurance for their employees. The measure added 15 million people to the Medicaid rolls, and subsidized the purchase of private health insurance coverage for low- and middle-income people. In addition, the health care law imposed a 40% tax on high-cost insurance plans -- or those plans that are worth more than $27,500 for families, and $10,200 for individuals.)
This was the last of three similar amendments intended to prohibit federal funds from being used to implement the landmark health care reform law described above. While the first amendment specifically prohibited the Health and Human Services Department from using federal funds to implement the law, the second amendment imposed this prohibition on all federal employees. This amendment—the third and last—specifically prohibited federal funding from being used to pay the salaries of federal employees charged with implementing the health care reform law.
Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) supported this amendment: “ObamaCare will likely create the largest government bureaucracy in the history of our country, filled with even more government jobs than any other agency. There is one thing that ObamaCare will likely do very, very well, and it's this: It will create the largest bureaucracy of government workers in the history of the nation. It isn't that we will necessarily get more doctors; it isn't that ObamaCare will necessarily give us more nurses or truly more health care. What we will get from ObamaCare…is increased costs in health care with a huge bureaucracy, all designed for the purpose likely of saying `no' to people when they need to have access to health care. What a bargain… Pay more, get less.”
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) opposed the amendment: “…Somewhere in America today a family is losing their home because they can't afford the health care premiums for a diabetic dad and a hypertensive mom. Somewhere in America tonight a child will die because they have been denied health care because of a preexisting condition….At some time in our life we will all get sick. We need health care. But you know what? We, as members of Congress, are very fortunate. We all get health care. We get the very best. But what about Jennifer and Lisa and James and grandma and grandpa and the Johnsons and baby Joshua? We represent them too. They deserve what we get .My constituents sent me to Washington to preserve the affordable health care legislation….On behalf of the people of this nation who depend on our leadership, I call upon you to defeat this amendment.”
The House agreed to this amendment by a vote of 237-191. Voting “yea” were 234 Republicans and 3 Democrats. 187 Democrats and 4 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment prohibiting funds provided by a continuing resolution from being used to pay the salary of any federal employee to implement or enforce a major health care reform law enacted in 2010.