Friday, February 18, 2011
House Votes to Defund 'ObamaCare'
The House passed the health care measure, 239-187, as an amendment to a bill that would keep the government lights on through the end of the fiscal year but also impose deep cuts on domestic programs.
Among the other actions the House took was to reject a controversial plan to end the Pentagon's sponsorship of a NASCAR team. Another measure, banning federal aid to Planned Parenthood, was passed.
The proposals were among more than 120 amendments remaining for the House to vote on as Republican leaders wind down a week of frenzied action on the spending bill.
The overall bill is the first step in an increasingly bitter struggle between Democrats and Republicans over how much to cut federal agencies' funding over the second half of the budget year that ends Sept. 30. Current funding runs out March 4 and a temporary spending bill will be needed to avoid a government shutdown.
The focus of Friday's session was the health care overhaul, which dominated Congress' work in 2009 and was enacted last year.
Rep. Denny Rehberg's amendment would starve the overhaul of any federal funds for the rest of fiscal 2011, which ends Sept. 30. The GOP has virtually no chance of killing the law because of support for the program from Obama and the Democratic-run Senate, but House Republicans have been trying relentlessly to chip away at it.
"Today's vote is the latest victory for the American public and our country in preventing the disastrous Obamacare law from forever damaging our health care system and hampering job creation," Rehberg said in a written statement. "Our efforts -- and my amendment -- will save billions of wasted funding while opening the door for true health care reform that reduces costs and improve access."
Another amendment that made headlines was one introduced Wednesday by Rep. Betty McCollum that would have prevented the U.S. Army from spending $7 million on NASCAR and $5 million on drag racing in 2011 as well as millions more by the Air Force and Navy in sponsorship deals intended to generate recruitment interest. Her proposal sought to give Republicans another target for slashing wasteful spending.
McCollum, who appeared with Muppet characters at a news conference Wednesday to push for continued funding of public broadcasting, argued that too much money is being spent by the government on racing. She noted that the tax deal reached between Republicans and Obama at the end of 2010 grave breaks to track and facilities owners to fund capital projects at a cost of $40 million.
But NASCAR backers say McCollum ignores the value of the dollar spent at NASCAR. According to Col. Derek W. Crotts, who manages the Army's NASCAR marketing and advertising program, nearly one-third -- 46,000 -- of the 150,000 leads Army recruiters get each year come from motorsports events.
The amendment failed in a 281-148 vote.
Indiana Rep. Mike Pence's proposal targeting Planned Parenthood also captured national attention. His proposal would eliminate the more than $75 million a year the group receives from the federal government to provide family planning and sex education, mostly to poor women.
Even though the Hyde Amendment bans the use of taxpayer money for abortions, the debate on the Planned Parenthood amendment devolved into a testy, at times emotional exchange about abortion Thursday night, chewing up nearly three hours on the House floor.
That amendment passed 240-185.
"This afternoon's vote is a victory for taxpayers and a victory for life," Pence said in a statement. "By banning federal funding to Planned Parenthood, Congress has taken a stand for millions of Americans who believe their tax dollars should not be used to subsidize the largest abortion provider in America."
But Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, denounced the proposal as an "extreme and dangerous piece of legislation."
"The outcome of this vote is not a surprise, but it is radically out of step with mainstream American values and it is out of line with the issues voters want Congress to focus on," she said.
"To be clear, the amendment to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding does nothing to reduce the deficit and it does nothing to improve the economy," she added. "In fact, health professionals will actually lose their jobs as a result, and, most egregiously, it takes health care away from American women who cannot afford to pay for it on their own."
Another prominent amendment awaiting a vote would restore all funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting since the underlying bill eliminates the $460 million designated for public broadcasters.
House Democrats weren't the only ones who endured setbacks in the session. Republicans rejected requests from conservative members to cut even deeper in the spending bill.
By a 281-147 vote, the House refused to cut $22 billion more in domestic programs. The overall bill would cut $60 billion from federal programs in the remaining seven months of the government's current budget year.
The defeated proposal would have trimmed 5.5 percent more from domestic programs and 11 percent more from Congress' own budget. Defense and other security programs would have been exempted.
Democrats voted no overwhelmingly -- and Republicans who also voted that way said the plan went too far.Source: Fox News
Article submitted by: WhiteWolf at Friday, February 18, 2011