The U.S. House of Representatives on March 21 voted 219 to 212 to pass the health care legislation that the Senate had already approved. The vote sends the measure to President Obama, who expects to sign the legislation March 23.
Republican U.S. Reps. Jeff Flake, Trent Franks and John Shadegg voted against the health care legislation. Democratic U.S. Reps. Ed Pastor, Raul Grijalva, Ann Kirkpatrick, Gabrielle Giffords and Harry Mitchell voted for it.
After approving the bill, the House voted for a package of changes to it. That package now goes to the Senate for approval. The package was negotiated among members of the House, Senate and the Obama administration.
Right after the House vote, most of Arizona’s congressional delegation began sending out press releases to explain either their support or their opposition. Candidates for Congress also weighed in. Check out their comments below.
“After a year of debate, studying bills, and listening to Arizonans, one thing has been made clear. We cannot sustain the path we are on because health care costs are burdening Arizona families, hurting the economy and slowing the recovery. This package would strengthen Medicare for seniors, maintain TRICARE for veterans, help mitigate the impact of Medicaid costs on Arizona, and make health insurance more accessible and affordable for individuals, families and small businesses. Additionally, it would rein in costs and reduce the deficit.” – U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, a Democrat who represents Arizona’s 5th Congressional District.
“Congressman Harry Mitchell has betrayed his constituents, his state and our country. His vote Sunday night will be remembered and will have long lasting consequences not only in our state but beyond. In voting not once, but two times, to support the Democrat-led government takeover of our health care system, Congressman Mitchell is giving the green light to a crippling increase in public spending, enormous tax increases, the prospect of a new national sales tax and an unwarranted intrusion of government into our personal lives.” - Jim Ward, a Republican candidate for Arizona’s 5th Congressional District.
“I have spent months traveling the district talking about health care, and my conversations with folks in our communities reminded me of what was at stake for Arizonans. I talked with Jonathan in Williams, who after spending 24 hours in the hospital over Christmas was charged $34,000 for his stay. I talked with Marlene in Florence, whose health insurance premiums rose every month to the point where she just could not afford her plan anymore – and was diagnosed with leukemia soon after she lost coverage. And I talked with Jim and Diane in Cottonwood, who are working multiple jobs to pay for their son’s asthma medication. I voted to pass reform for Jonathan, for Marlene, for Jim and Diane and for thousands of others like them who have been failed by the system.” – U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat representing Arizona’s 1st Congressional District.
“I am deeply disappointed that Representative Giffords has so blatantly voted against the majority of voters in her district. Her vote for a large, new federal health care entitlement will both increase deficit spending and restrict free market health care options available to residents of District 8. When I am in Congress, I will do everything in my power to reverse Obamacare and enact real free market solutions that truly increase competition and lower costs.” – Jesse Kelly, a Republican candidate for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.
“President Barack Obama and Democrats in this majority have now shoved this bill down the throats of the American people without even a single Republican vote. Never before has such sweeping legislation been done with a purely partisan vote. Therefore, whatever ill comes from this bill, history should record that Democrats and Democrats alone chose the path of socialism over the highway of freedom. Let this and future generations hold them accountable.” – U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, a Republican who represents Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District.
“Reform has always been about assisting the most vulnerable in our society. That’s why I’ve made this last year about doing what I can on their behalf. In that light, I could cast no other vote today. Our status quo is simply unsustainable. The people of this country have been crying out for Congress to act. Because we acted today, by the end of this year no insurer will be allowed to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. No company can cut off benefits because it wants a bigger profit margin. All insurers will be required to treat everyone more equally regardless of age, race and gender. Today, we commit significant support to community health centers around the country that provide medical care to the most vulnerable in society. Those are significant achievements.” – U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat who represents Arizona’s 7th Congressional District.
“After hearing from thousands of my constituents on this topic over the past year, I am convinced that something must be done to hold insurance companies accountable, give Southern Arizonans greater health care choices and bring down medical costs. The legislation before us, while far from perfect, represents a needed step forward. Last fall, I was proud to support legislation that included a public option. My constituents know that I am a former small business owner who believes in common sense solutions. I know first-hand the challenge of providing employee health insurance as costs climb every year.” – U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat who represents Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.
“Over the past year, this health care bill has become an outrage; an outrage that has become a revolution. And this revolution, I promise you, on the first Tuesday in November, will lead to a shake-up in Washington the likes of which we have not seen in a generation.” – Jonathan Paton, a Republican candidate for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.
“Well, we’ll begin in this reconciliation … that’s going to come to the Senate in the next couple of days, and then we’ll fight in the courts, and then we will fight at the rallies and the Tea Parties, and the town hall meetings, and we will fight in the ballot booth, and we will prevail, and we will defeat this, because the United States of America and the State of Arizona cannot afford this. … The point is that this is a direct contradiction to the overwhelming majority opinion of the American people. It’s the first time in history a major change has been made when – with only on a partisan basis, and I can assure you that this will have a harmful effect. … It’s the worst sausage-making process that I’ve ever seen since I’ve been here.” – U.S. Sen. John McCain, a Republican who is up for re-election this year, speaking on Channel 3′s Good Morning Arizona.
“The legislation creates an avalanche of new agencies, rules and regulations that will vastly expand federal power over the most intimate aspects of each of our lives. It also contains unsustainable, unconstitutional and unaffordable mandates on the states and on individuals alike, including an unprecedented requirement that citizens buy private insurance policies. I support legal challenges to the health care bill’s enforcement as well as legislative efforts toward its repeal.” - J.D. Hayworth, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.