Procedure: Democrats appear to have (thankfully) dropped "deem and pass." There will be three major votes: First, the Rule, which will determine the debate process and number of amendments; Second, the Senate Bill; and Third, the reconciliation package. The magic number is 216.
C-Span Links: Flash Player and Windows Media Player.
10:43 PM: The House is voting now, but the debate is over and we know this is going to pass. So after nearly ten hours, I've had enough.
10:20 PM: Speaker Pelosi takes the stage. We tonight will make history for our country and progress for the American people. We will honor the vows of our founders. This legislation will lead to healthier lives. It is an American proposal that honors the traditions of our country. We would not be here tonight without the extraordinary leadership and vision of President Obama.
This legislation tonight, if I had one word to describe, would be opportunity. This legislation will unleash tremendous entrepreneurial power. You can change jobs without worrying that you lose health insurance.
The present health insurance system is unsustainable and is bankrupting the country. The best action we can take is to pass health care reform. The best way to create jobs is to pass health care reform.
32 million more Americans will have insurance and current insurance holders will be protected from higher costs. This bill will create millions of jobs while saving $1.3 trillion.
When it comes to health care, all politics is personal. It's personal for women, and after we pass this bill, being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition. It's personal for seniors and for families who are forced into bankruptcy or unable to afford health insurance.
She notes there may be no Republican votes, but there are 200 Republican amendments.
10:09 PM: Minority Leader John Boehner said that we should be working together, If you like the health plan you have, you can keep it? No, you can't. In this economy, with this unemployment, is this really the time to raise taxes and create more government. Won't cuts to Medicare really weaken that program? Was this Bill done openly, with transparency and accountability, without back room deals. Have you read the Bill? Hell no, you haven't. If we vote to defy the will of the American people, we should at least stand ansd announce our votes, one at a time. Boehner asks the Speaker to grant his request for a call of the roll. The speaker calls it a rhetorical question and then says it will by electronic vote.
Boehner said the process is broken, the institution is broken, and that's why the bill is flawed. Americans ask Congress to slow down, not spend money we don't have, it instead focus on jobs. What they see is one political party closing out another from what should be a national solution.
Shame on us. Shame on this body.
This is the people's House, and the moment a majority forgets that, they start writing themselves a ticket to minority status.
10:00 PM: "The Chair is not obligated to inform members of the rules of the House. ... The Chair does not respond to hypothetical questions." (Sounds like Callahan!)
9:51 PM: Republican Whip Eric Cantor notes health care is a "very personal issue," but this overhaul will have a huge impact on everyone. The President has refused to listen, but we hear the American people. This government must stop raising taxes on small businesses and families, but this "trillion dollar overhaul" will do the opposite. Families and patients should have the freedom to choose their own doctors, but this trillion dollar overhaul will begin to take it away. It is the latest part of an agenda to seize more control over our economy and lives. "Listen to the people and vote No to this legislation"
9:30 PM: Clymer calls this a "defining moment in our nation's history," and recites the 700th anecdote of the night. The reform included in this bill will decrease our deficit. It will also create 80,000 jobs. "This is the Civil Rights Act of the 21st century."
9:24 PM: "Only in Washington, DC, can you say you're going to spend a trillion dollars and save the taxpayers money." ... "The American people don't want a government takeover of health care." ... "This really is about freedom." ... "We can reform health care by giving people more choices, not more government."
9:15 PM: Rep. Paul Ryan states that "There's a lot wrong with this bill. It is full of gimmicks and hidden mandates." He calls the philosophy behind this bill "paternalistic" and "condescending." "We have seen this movie before and we know how it ends." ... "On this issue, more than any other issue we have seen here, the American people are engaged."
9:10 PM: Dem. George Miller notes America has waited 100 years for health reform. Never again will Americans have to worry about losing health insurance if they lose their job. This will also make college more affordable. "We can side with America's families ... or we can side with insurance companies and the banks."
9:05 PM: Though the debate has gone on 17 months, Republicans complain the bill is being rammed through. - Democrat Gwen Moore.
9:03 PM: "There exists one simple truth, and that truth is that the current system is unsustainable." (NY Congressman)
9:00 PM: A commenter notes that Rep. Ruben Hinojosa(D-TX) "reminded me of the SNL character the Indian Stand up Comic."
8:40 PM: Dr. Tom Price (Georgia) notes health care is a "moral endeavor," but this bill is bad for patients. It will destroy the trust between patient and doctor. "We trust patients and families. They trust government." ... "The bipartisan vote on this bill is a No."
8:30 PM: Things are beginning to get a bit testy.
7:50 PM: Embattled Congressman Charlie Rangle, under ethical clouds, said he's privileged to be a part of this legislation. "Thank God, I'm on the right side." (Hmmm).
7:44 PM: "You may be getting your pre-natal care from turbo tax," huffs one Republican upset that the Bill provides for between 17 and 18 thousand new IRS auditors.
7:11 PM: John Dingel, whose father slammed the gavel when Medicare was adopted, noted this legislation will expand health care to an additional 32 million Americans. "It gives Americans the same health care that we here in Congress have." ... "It is the patient's bill of rights on steroids."
7:05 PM: Thirty-eight states have said they will sue to challenge the constitutionality of the unfunded mandates in this measure. Nathan Deal, who is leaving the House to become Governor of Georgia, just pledged he will join them.
6:50 PM: Majority leader Steny Hoyer characterizes opposition to health care reform as a "campaign of fear", but notes that a "healthy America is a stronger America." He notes Republicans had called Medicare "brazen socialism" and social security the "lash of the dictator."
6:30 PM: House OKs the Rule in a 224-206 vote, well beyond the 216 votes needed.
5:40 PM: David Dreier, ranking member of the Rules Committee, argues a $1.2 trillion billion with job-killing tax increases and 18,000 new IRS agents is unnecessary. He'd rather expand health savings accounts, pooling to deal with pre-existing conditions, allow purchases across state lines and adopt meaningful lawsuit reform. But Rules Chair Louise Slaughter contends that a vote against this Bill is a vote for insurance companies. Right now, a vote to suspend the rules is being tabulated.
5:21 PM: About a gazillion "I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks in opposition to this flawed health care bill" requests. When debate is limited, I guess that's the only way.
4:28 PM: After killing the second point of order, the House is now debating the Rule.
4:13 PM: Pro-lifer Bart Stupak announces he's now supporting the package, based on a promise from Obama to issue an Executive Order prohibiting what is authorized under the Bill. Undecided House Democrats like Kathy Dahlkemper are joining him. (Obama's proposed Exec. Order is here).
Turn out the lights, the party's over.
3:35 PM: Louise Slaughter and David Dreier begin mixing it up, accompanied by cheers and jeers from other House members, pounding of the gavel, etc. It's like Northampton County Council! NYTimes reports that Republican House members are flirting with the protesters outside and are waving their own "Don't tread on me" flags from a second-floor balcony. (Barney Frank may have mooned them). Jesse Jackson, Jr., who is acting as Speaker, sure has his hands full.
3:12 PM: Point of Order made that Bill is packed with earmarks, called bribes, in violation of the earmark identification rule. Louise Slaughter claims necessary documentation has been filed.
2:47 PM: Vote on the Point of Order that resolution violates unfunded mandates law. Fails 228-195.
2:39 PM (Sheila Jackson Lee): She brings up Teddie Kennedy and John Kennedy, too.
(Nobody brings up Bobby).
2:33 PM (Patrick Kennedy): The late Edward Kennedy's heart and soul are in this bill. "Healthcare is not only a civil right, it is a moral obligation."
2:20 PM: House has finally introduced the Rule. Congressman Barney Frank reports someone shouting "Kill the Bill!" from the gallery was carted away by cops as House Republicans actually cheered the disruptor. He called them a "bunch of clowns."
"This Bill is the mother of all unfunded mandates."