tv American Politics CSPAN December 27, 2009 6:30pm-8:00pm EST
when i probably should have been anyway, getting to a exercise program, higher personal trainer, and work on my nutrition. and i lost 25 pounds. i feel better. i consider this analysis help me with this. if a physician could say, come on, you should have done that anyway. and they're probably right. but having this information held a motivator for me. >> thank you. we are back with our reporters. rebecca adams, what did you learn? >> people are very interested in have been waiting to see exactly how that would go. the interesting news he made about the regulations that will
come up on the conflicts of interest was also interesting. >> was that a change? >> people often suspected that they wanted to tighten those. he has never been this specific. >> [unintelligible] he said he had lost 25 pounds. i thought that was news. i got to hand it to the nih director who manages to lose weight on the job. they usually pack on the pounds. he has answers [unintelligible] he should be an interesting nih
director. >> how much does he control? what is the significance of nih when it comes to medical research in general? >> it plays a huge role in laying the foundation for what private sector companies can do to develop drugs. i wanted to ask him about something. he has a background in genetics- based research. is there going to be some sort of slighting of the research of environmental factors in disease. >> we should said that nih is the 800 pound gorilla in medical
research. there are about 100,000 graduate students and post-docs running around up there. sending them all to work in washington is not a good idea. there will be unhappy people if the nih budget hits the wall again in two years. it will have to be substantially boosted to keep things going. >> do you see, as being favorable to that? >> they like it. everybody likes medicine. but we are in deficit policy. that makes a very hard to talk about donating $1 billion. this is more of a capitol hill question. it is not when be an easy sell unless there is real breakthrough that they can
rankle. >> there are some strong advocates on the hill for medical research funding. president obama's mother died of cancer and he has a particular interest in cancer research. but there is this concern about lagging deficits. it is a big issue. many are unhappy with democrats in congress right now. we will have to see how that plays out. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> coming up, highlights from the senate health care debate. later, the co-founder of the social networking site black planet.com.
>> last week, the senate passed their version of health-care legislation. beebought ben nelson announced e would vote yes on the bill. he had been a holdout. the announcement prompted criticism from some republicans on the senate floor, including lindsey rahm. >> i do not know if you can call this a sweetheart deal or does repugnant. the campaign of 2008 was about change we could believe in. i really do believe that one of the reasons president obama one was because he convinced the young people in this country that if i get to be president, this country is going to change for the better. we are going to do things differently. that resonated with people. when we were in charge republicans, we let people down. we let things get out of control on their watch. some of our people went to jail.
this new, young, exciting reticulate figure came along and promised a new way of doing business. that is what hurts so much about this bill. the special deals you just mentioned reminds us of why congress is itstatus so low standing. -- is at such low standing. the 60th vote, how did did they get it? here's what happened. they took one senator, the key guy, and they put him in a room and we had no access to that room and no democrat really did either. after it was all said and done, here's what resulted from those negotiations that were not on c- span.
nebraska's line to be the only state in the union, ladies and gentleman, that new medicaid enrollees will be covered by the federal government. every other state in the union, when we sign up a new person on medicaid, your state will have to make a matching contribution. there will be half a million more people eligible for medicaid under this deal. it will cause my -- it will cost my state of south carolina $1 billion. but if you live in nebraska, it will not cost you one dime. that is change we can believe in? count me out. if that is up there with the american people, i can tell you our best days are behind us. nebraska got a deal that no other insurance company debt. the hospital in nebraska got a
deal. louisiana about $300 million to help with their medicaid problems that nobody else got. if you want your country to be run any more business-like fashion, then we need to speak up. you have a chance between now and january to let your voice be heard. my good friend from nevada, the special deals in this deal are not special. they are the same old crap that we have been putting up for decades appear and people thought were going to come to an end. it is when to hurt your children's ability of thto have. i hope people will take their government back. if you think this deal from nebraska is unacceptable, speak
up and speak out and let the house members kt exchange. first of all, there is a booklet that we put out by the government printing office that says how our laws are made and we give it out to our constituents. we send it out to schools all over america. i have never seen anything in that little book that says that you get behind closed doors and you cut deals. you get behind closed doors, particularly after your president said during the campaign -- and we are in little bit cynical about politics and campaign pragupromises. but the president said time and time again that we would have a big table with insurance companies and doctors and drug companies and they would have a seat on the table. there will now be able to buy it every share, but we will have
negotiations on c-span so they can see who's making arguments of behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies. who got the best deal of all? pharma. who's spent the most money on advertising? farma pimp what is going to cost the american consumer $100 million because they could have been saved if the consumer would have been able to reimport prescription drugs? i would ask my friend from nebraska, always in the louisiana purchase and the florida deal, the nebraska deal is probably the most publicity and visibility. maybe it is because it is the 60th vote. we will be finding deals in this 2007 hundred-page deal for months. we will be finding provisions. it is not two thousand 700 pages
for nothing. i ask the senator of nebraska, how does this go over in the heartland of america? how do people in nebraska, who said that they have gotten some kind of special deal, a provision, reported solid in the media that would come at the expense of other americans? >> it does not go over. it simply does not. be in every way possible over the last few days, i have been asked, do you support this special deal for nebraska? i do not. i think it is wrong. it's florida, it's louisiana,
montana, and on and on and on. i came to the floor this morning, and i asked unanimous consent that taken out. and i listed a long list of them. and, of course, there was an objection to that request for unanimous consent. why? i mean, why would we want to try to pass legislation with all of this? it makes no sense to me. but let me take a step back. we all remember a few months ago there was a big story that nevada was going to get a special medicaid deal. and it was right about that time that we took a few days off and i went back home and i did town hall meetings like i've done for years and years and years. but we really invested time and effort. and we identified six principles of health care. they're on my website. you can go look at them. and i literally had a powerpoint
presentation. i did four town hall meetings, carney, grand island, lexington, lincoln, and i put these principles up. and one of the principles was no carve outs, no backroom deals, no special deals. and i presented that to the people that were at those town hall meetings. i did tons of interviews. i explained why i felt the way i did. and people were so irate at the possibility that nevada was going to get this special deal. now, since then i think that's fallen to the wayside. but all of these other things have come along. that's why i read the lincoln journal star editorial. this is an editorial page that sometimes likes what i'm doing and sometimes it does not. and over the years they have not hesitated to take me to task. but they looked at this and they
said, since when is nebraska -- has nebraska become synonymous cynical, what's in it for me-type politics. they went on and said, it's time to hit the reset button. we're not getting this right at all. we simply are not getting it right. and they talked about the issues of cost containment. they talked about the actuary's report, which i had spent a little bit of time talking to them about and other folks around the state. and after look at all of that, they just said, look, this isn't going the way it needs to go for the american people. now, here's what i would say to all of my colleagues in the senate, i love my state. i love the people there. they're just such honest, decent people. you know, in many parts of our state people really believe that
side would consider my request for a unanimous consent agreement that just says, time-out, everybody. let's pull out the special deals. whether it's nebraska or montana or whoever. it doesn't matter to me. let's pull those out and let's take a step back and let's work for what senator risch talks about and the rest of us. we can get 80 votes on the health care reform bill. i guarantee not this bill. mr. wicker: i would echo what the senator from nebraska has just said. and i know my friend from arizona has been one of the most outspoken critics of special deals and special earmarks. this is not some catchall appropriation bill to get us through the end of the year. this is one of the most major pieces of legislation that any
member of this senate currently serving will ever vote on. this is one-sixth of the american economy. and the american people are learning about the special carve outs where the citizens of one state will be treated differently, not because of a form larks not because of the -- formula, not because of the poverty level, but because of political power. and it would just seem to me that one member of the majority party in these next two days might step forward and say, you know, you're right. and i will not be a party to this. mr. mccain: let me just make one additional comment. i have seen reform go through the congress of the united states. the first one i saw was when we saved social security, a major reform of social security. there was no back room dealing. it was a straightforward proposal as to how to fix -- how to fix social security. we fixed welfare. it was welfare reform.
again, open, honest, bipartisan negotiations and bipartisan agreement. welfare reform, social security reform, the efforts we made at tobacco reform, at campaign finance reform, at immigration reform, all the reforms, and many others, patients' bill of rights. every reform that i have ever been involved in has had two major and sole components. one is bipartisan. two, there was no special favors or deals cut or provisions in thousands of pages of legislation. so again, i -- we know where the train is headed, and we know what's going to happen a short time from now, but they will make history. you will make history. you will have rammed through a -- quote -- reform on a strictly partisan basis without the participation of the other party over the objections of a
majority of the american people, done in closed negotiations and results that are announced to the american people without debate or discussion and to this side without debate or discussion. the american people don't like it. they don't like for us to do business that way. and i am sure that this peaceful revolution that's going out there, -- going on out there already -- because as the senator from idaho pointed out because of the involvement in the car companies, the stimulus, the bonus, the generational theft that we're committing, this all on top of that is going to give great fuel to the fire that's already burning out there where they want real change, real change which they were promised in the last presidential campaign and certainly did not get. a senator: probably one of the great ironies of all this is going to be at 8:00 on the
24th when this bill passes with the 60 votes, all democrats. mr. risch: immediately following that vote, it's going to be a vote again all 60 democrats and only democrats raising the national debt. what an irony, to put put $2.5 trillion in spending of a new social entitlement program, adding it to the three already huge entitlement programs that are in the process of bankrupting america, adding this to it and then turning right around and increasing the debt ceiling, and when they increase it, it's going to be -- nobody knows exactly how much it's going to be. it's going to be hundreds of billions. but putting that -- that's only in the last two months. they're going to have to come back again in february and increase the national debt ceiling again. what irony. what irony. mr. mccain: this legislation turns everything we know about
budgeting on its head. although it's been done before and it's been done by republicans, to our shame. today if you go out and buy an automobile, you can drive it for a year before you have to pay for it. under this bill, it's the opposite. you pay the taxes, you have the reductions in benefits, and then four years later, you start having whatever benefits would accrue from this legislation. so for four years, small business people, people all over america will see their health care costs increase before there is a single tangible result from it. remarkable. mr. wicker: the senator mentioned the florida carveout and asked why i -- or perhaps i should have it on my map. the reason i didn't, it involves medicare advantage and not medicaid. the map was about medicaid. but he makes a good point about the florida carveout. and hi a discussion with some of the leadership on the democratic
side on the floor of this senate the other day about medicare advantage. the strong assertion over on that side is that medicare advantage is not medicare. as a matter of fact, some of the leadership in this very body said -- the booklet that the government puts out, it says medicare advantage is part of medicare should be changed. those words should be stricken from the handout because it really is not part of medicare. the website that the federal government has up saying that this is -- that medicare advantage is part of medicare, that should be changed because really it's just an insurance company masquerading as medicare. let me just take a second. this is betty, and betty represents -- she is from louisiana. now, i don't know if she voted for -- if she was one of the 60% of louisianans who voted for
senator mccain in louisiana, but -- but she enjoys medicare advantage. she was told during the election that if you like your coverage under any plan that the president would -- that the obama administration would approve, you get to keep that coverage. she gets hearing aids, vision coverage, dental care, and she likes her medicare advantage. now, if betty is one of the 150,000 seniors in the state of louisiana that enjoys this benefit, she is at risk of losing it. but if she happens to be in the state of florida in any of these counties with the $100 million carveout, she is fortunate enough to be able to keep her medicare advantage. in other words, it may not be
guaranteed, but she sure likes it. and obviously, one of the senators from florida believes that his constituents really, really like it, and so, again, a carveout so that this nonguaranteed, nonmedicare benefit that is really not very good, they can keep it in florida. that is in the bill, and no one can deny that special treatment is given to that one state under medicare advantage, and then i challenge any american to come on the floor of this senate and tell me how that is fair. mr. barrasso: it's not, and there have been a number of references to our friend and colleague, the late senator ted kennedy, but let's take a look about the book that his brother john kennedy wrote, "profiles in courage," and as we've seen all of this, it's time for one
courageous democrat to stand up and say this is about our country, this is about our country, not about a kickback. this is about health care, not about a hand in the cookie jar. that's what we need. we need one courageous democrat to stand up and say i don't want to be a part of this editorial that talks about the louisiana purchase and omaha states. i don't want to be a part of this that calls it the world's greatest deliberative body has now become the most corrupt. i don't want to be a part of this that says this is about bribery. it needs one courageous democrat, one out of 60 to stand up and say i am going to vote no. we need to back up. we need to think about this. we have 100 members of a senate who want to reform health care in this country, who want to get the costs under control, who want to improve quality, who want to improve access. a hundred senators want to do that. that is the goal of each and every one of us here. we need one courageous senator to say it is time, time now to
take a step back. let us go home over christmas, let us think about this, let us talk to our constituents at home, let us hear what they have to say about this looking out for number one, $100 million, dana milbanks' column in "the washington post" today. that's what we need now in the united states senate. we need the kind of courage that john kennedy wrote about in "profiles in courage." mr. risch: senator barrasso, there already are some courageous democrats stepping up, and i would hope that every democrat on the other side, call your governor and say governor, what do you think about this? help me out here. should i vote -- i'm in caucus and they have bought enough votes to get to the 60, but i got to tell you, i don't like the way they did it, number one, and number two, what about the rest of us? we didn't get -- we didn't get the $300 million, we didn't get the x number of million, help me
out, governor. you know, they say they're going to shift $25 billion to the states that you're going to have to come up with. what do you think? do you think i ought to vote for this? or maybe, maybe if one of us steps forward and says, you know, i'm going to vote no and i want to set the reset button and i want to put people back to the table and say let's do this right. we can do this right. we're americans. we know how to do this. we are the most innovative people in the world. all we have to do is get together and do it. but to -- to jam this down the throat of the american people and make no doubt about it, this is being jammed down the throats of the american people on the eve of christmas, in the middle of the night, in the face of poll after poll that says don't do this to us. that's what's happening. there are courageous democrats out there. none of them are sitting here. mr. wicker: let me tell my friend from idaho about some
courageous democrats. when the house version of this was being considered at the other end of this building, a number of democrats stepped forward and said i -- i can't vote for it. it was very close. they have a huge majority, 40 votes over there. as a matter of fact, one member of the house today basically said i -- i really can't take it anymore. he switched parties. the member from alabama is now joining the republican conference. but there are a number of loyal democrats who have no intention of switching parties, and they have stepped forward and said i can't vote for it. don't count me in on this. now, bart stupak is a representative, a courageous pro-life representative from michigan, and he did vote for the bill. and i don't impugn his motives. he did what he thought was right, but before he voted for it, he made sure that legislation was included in the house version to make sure that the hyde language which has been
the law of the land for almost two decades was included. and here's what representative stupak said yesterday, or day before yesterday about this so-called pro-life compromise that was included in the version that we'll have to vote on in the senate. he said it's -- "not acceptable. it's a dramatic shift in federal policy that would allow the federal government to subsidize insurance policies with abortion coverage." that's a release that -- actually on december 19. i appreciate the courage of someone from a democrat state, from a district that's long been democrat, who is a member of -- a chairman of a committee and a member of the leadership over there stepping forward and say i can't go this far. and unless this language is
changed -- and we're told by members of the senate that there better not be much what we vote on my christmas eve, it better state like it is or it will be passed by the senate when it comes out of conference. bart still back said he would stay. i appreciate that. >> i appreciate the senator from mississippi bringing this important issue to our attention. i would like to pick up on what dr. russell mentioned about the kennedy family. it is well-known heart that i had a very close relationship developed over the years with senator ted kennedy and that we worked together on a variety of issues. there is a great irony in the constant on the other side of
the aisle, references to senator kennedy will always began legislation by getting bipartisan -- by getting members on the other side of the aisle committed to working together, whether it be on immigration reform, health care reform, on one of the great achievements of achievements of president bush ii, no child left behind. . the major reasons why he had such an impressive legislative record. so how did the other side do it? without a bit of serious negotiation, without trying -- really bringing anybody on board before moving forward. no one. which ends up now with a 60-40 vote, which is a pure partisan
vote, outcome, when there has never been in history a single reform that was not bipartisan, and that's why the american people are rejecting this. that's why the american people are seeing through it. and to hear the constant refrain that the american people want this, read any poll. that the american people want this, read any poll. it's just a matter difference, because the american people have figured this out. and it's going to be one of the great historic mistakes. not historic, but historic mistakes made by the congress of the united states. mr. mcconnell: if i may just say to my friend from arizona, you're absolutely right. i've had an opportunity to observe senator kennedy over the years and that's exactly the way he operated. but if i may, just to make a point with regard to the senator from mississippi's observation about congressman stupak, as i understand it, i'd ask my friend from mississippi, congressman stupak was not asking for some special deal for michigan in return for his vote.
he was, rather, trying to establish a principle that would apply to all americans. is that not the case, i would say to my friend from mississippi? mr. wicker: i would say to the distinguished republican leader, that is exactly correct. and i commend my colleague -- my former house colleague for taking that principled stand. mr. mcconnell: could not the same thing be said about our colleague, senator lieberman, from connecticut? i'm sorry he ended up voting for this 1,700-page monda monstrosi. but you have to say, as i understood senator lieberman's position -- and senator mccain certainly knows him very, very well -- his position was if the government goes into the insurance business, i can't support this bill, not i'm open for business and what can you do for connecticut. mr. mccain: i -- there may be on the floor a unanimous consent agreement to remove the nebraska medicaid deal. i would hope that if there's any
unanimous consent agreement at any time, that the whole bill be fixed, which means every special provision would be removed, whether it be from nebraska or any other state. because we still have the louisiana purchase of $300 million. we still have the florida medicare grandfather clause, $25 billion to $30 billion. the list goes on and on and on. the connecticut hospital -- i guess it's the connecticut hospital. you know, it's always in legislation so you have to do research to see who qualifies. so i would hope that we could have, again, agreement that all these special provisions that affect certain specific states would be removed as well. i think it would go over rather well with the american people. so i -- i just want to say to my colleagues, thank you for your passion. i know that a lot of people don't watch our proceedings here on the floor, but i think it has played a role in educating the american people as to what we're
facing. the media have played a role, our add assess groups, grass-roots organizations all over america. but i've had a great privilege of engaging in these colloquies with my colleagues, and, to me, it's been both helpful to my constituents but, frankly, it's also been helpful to me to work with doctors, to work with people who have been involved in these issues, former governors and others. and i think we've made some kind of contribution which i think what we're all sent here for. mr. wicker: mr. president, how much time remains? the presiding officer: two minutes. mr. wicker: well, i -- unless my colleagues want to join in, i want to thank them for joining us and certainly thank senator mccain, one of the most distinguished public servants, someone who's sacrificed for his country and who has been on this floor hour after hour. i would simply point out that
the bill that we'll be asked to vote for on christmas eve by the administration's own chief actuary increases health care costs, threatens access to care for seniors, forces people off their current coverage, and actually increases the amount of the gross domestic product that will be spent on health care rather than increasing it. these are not facts that -- these are not statements i have made. these are assessments made by the chief actuary for the obama administration. there's still time, even if this bill passes, we'll go home for christmas, for the holidays. we'll hear from our constituents. and i would hope that we listen to that over 60% of americans who say, we advise you not to vote for this legislation.
mr. barrasso: and it's time for a new chapter to be written in profiles in courage, and one of the members of this body can be that profile. all they have to do is stand up and say no, i will not be part of what has been called corruption in the senate, i will not be part of what has been called in the editorials bribery in the senate. i will be that courageous person and vote no. it is time for a new chapter in profiles in courage. and with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: it's the understanding of the chair that the senator from mississippi had the floor. mr. wicker: i yield the floor. mr. baucus: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. baucus: mr. president, i have several points to make. first, as a matter of personal privilege, on behalf of the people of libby, montana, the senator from arizona made it sound like the folks of libby were getting some kind of a sweetheart deal. i wish the senator would not leave the floor so he could
actually hear what's -- hear what's actually going on. and i think the senator from arizona would agree with me that he would not want his constituents to suffer an environmental calamity. he would not want his constituents to not get some redress because of a declaration of public emergency due to contamination of asbestos. i assume the president -- the senator from arizona would very much stand up for his constituents. let me explain this provision. in the law in 1980 -- this congress passed a law in 1980. it's called circl-a. that legislation said that whenever there's a declaration of a public emergency because of a contamination at a superfund site, that the government has a opportunity to declare a public emergency and help those people get medical care because of contamination of asbestos. in this case, especially something called tremolite, which is even greater damage --
causes greater damage than ordinary asbestos does. and i would assume that the senator from arizona would want his constituents to get some help from a -- from contamination from asbestos. mr. mccain: may i respond? mr. baucus: absolutely. mr. mccain: all the senator had to do was have it authorized, bring it up on the floor as an appropriation and i'm sure that the senator's arguments would have been far more cogent than jamming it into a bill which has to do with health care reform. mr. baucus: this is health care. mr. mccain: of policy of health care reform. and this bill -- this legislation and this cause of the senator from montana has been turned back several times. mr. baucus: reclaiming my right to the floor. mr. mccain: i'm responding. the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. baucus: i'm reclaiming the floor because he doesn't want to deal in good faith with this issue. the second point -- second poi point. it is disrespectful, it is unseemly for senators in this
body to invoke the names of ted kennedy and jack kennedy in opposition to this bill. it is disrespectful and unseemly and i, frankly, am very much surprised that senators would go to that level and try and invoke the names of ted kennedy and jack kennedy in -- in opposition to this legislation. talk about profiles in courage. i hear senators on the other side say where is the courage of one senator to stand up and vote against health care reform. that's what i keep hearing on that side, where's the courage, where's the courage of one senator on the democratic side to stand up and vote against health care reform? mr. president, i'm going to turn that around. profiles in courage by jack kennedy and also ted kennedy were senators who worked to try to find resolutions to agreements. they wanted to compromise, they wanted to work together to get just results. and i ask the senators: where is the senator on that side of the aisle who's got the courage to break from their leadership,
break from the partisanship they're exercising on the other side of the aisle to work together to pass health care reform? i ask them: where is the -- where is the -- where is the courage? where are the senators who've got courage on that side of the aisle to stand up and work together on a bipartisan basis to get health care reform passed? where? we on this side reached out our hands for bipartisan agreement on health care reform probably to a fault -- probably to a fault. and i say "fault," because for months and months and months, this senator anyway extended the hand to work with other senators in a bipartisan basis -- on a bipartisan biases. i know the current occupant of the chair knows this. he watched this. he saw it happen in the finance committee. and senator grassley and i worked very hard to get senators on both sides of the aisle to work to pass health care reform. very hard. then after awhile, we had to work towards another approach. the group of six, three republicans, three democrats. we worked for days.
we worked for months on a bipartisan basis to get health care reform passed. do you know what happened? i watched it happen. those senators there in the room who were acting in good faith. they were in good faith. they wanted to mutually work together to pass health care reform. they asked very good questions. senator enzi, for example, from wyoming, very good questions. senator snowe asked very good questions. senator grassley asked very good questions. we worked together on health care reform. but you know what happened? you know what happened, mr. president? i could feel it happening. one by one by one they started to drift away. they wanted to pass health care reform, they wanted to act i ona bipartisan basis but they were pressured, pressured from the out -- from their political party not to do it, not to do it, not to do it. why were they pressured not to do it? unfortunately they gave in to that pressure because their leadership wanted to political -- wanted to make a political statement. one senator on the floor here said let's make this obama's
waterloo, health care's waterloo. they did not to want work with us on that side of the aisle, they did not want to work with us because they thought it was better to make a political statement -- attack the bill, attack the bill, attack the bill, attack the bill, in order to make points for the 2010 election. so i ask, mr. president, where's the courage? where's the courage? where's the republican senator that's going to stand up and say, boy, let's work together to pass health care reform? where is the senator that's going to stand up on that side of the aisle and say you bet, we want to work together to pass health care reform? this senator tried mightily to get bipartisan support. a senator: will the gentleman yield just briefly? mr. baucus: the senator from iowa, who i've been working with for a long, long time, and they just kept -- they were pulled away. senator grassley, i don't want to speak for him, but i know he wanted to get health care reform passed on a bipartisan basis. i know that's the case. but, frankly, he got pressured, pressured, pressured and he just couldn't do it. i have the highest respect and regard for him. he just couldn't do it. and i would say it's very
unfortunate. mr. wicker: the senator has asked a question. i wonder if he would yield just briefly? mr. baucus: absolutely. mr. wicker: i think the senator has answered his own question. as a matter of fact, senator grassily and senator enzi met for hours and hours, weeks upon weeks with my friend from montana in good faith hoping to come up with -- with a program that could get that >> that is how they started out. >> eventually, it dawned on them that my friends on the other side of the aisle wanted to europeanize a health care system of the united states of america to cut medicare -- >> i claim my time. that is not what happened. i was in the room constantly. i talked to those senators many times. that is not what happened.
i will tell you what did happen. your leadership pressured them not to work together. there is no european-style effort. that is totally and untruthful statement. >> thank you, gentleman. >> we were proposing a unique american solution. it has competition. it helps the doctor patient relationship. that is entirely untrue. that is entirely false. the fact that they did not want to work with us is regrettable, and with the biggest tragedy is is there was not a good-faith effort on that side to come up with a constructive, comprehensive alternative to the democratic version of health care reform. if there had been a constructive alternative to health care reform, we could've had a good debate.
care problems in our country. that did not ever happen. it did not ever happen at all. rather, they didn't come up -- they didn't have anything. they didn't have a health care bill, none whatsoever. the only one that kind of came up a little bit was over in the house, because after all the criticism, the republicans don't have an alternative, finally the republicans in the house came up with an alternative. it was very, very small. there wasn't much to it, to be honest, the congressional budget office said it hardly creates any cove coverage whatsoever. it was not really a comprehensive health care reform bill and there's been none in the united states senate on the republican side. no alternative for a comprehensive health care reform bill. so i -- i just -- i just want the public to know that we've worked very hard to get a bipartisan bill. that side of the aisle started out working with us but gradually they began to believe politically -- at least in this person's judgment -- began to believe politically it would be better politically and they would do better in the 2010 elections by not working with us
and just attack, attack, attack, attack, attack and try to score political points to defeat any honest effort to get health care reform. mr. president, i now yield -- how much time does the senator desire? a senator: thank you, mr. president. i thank my colleague from montana. mr. baucus: i yield such time as the senator from nebraska would like. the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mr. nelson: thank you, mr. pres. this has been quite an enlightening experience here on the floor this past 30 or 40 minutes with all -- it shows how emotionally charged this body has become over this issue and perhaps other issues as well. but the challenge is we're all entitled to our own opinions. we're just not entitled to our own set of facts. and i'd like to take a moment to explain the so-called medicaid fix for the state of nebraska. it's been described as the omaha stakes fix.
i take issue, and i only wish my colleague from nebraska had stayed on the floor to hear this. i take issue with one of the premier businesses in the state of nebraska used in a matter of derision to outline something that is factually incorrect on the basis of how they are presenting it. you can twist and you can turn and you can try to distort what happens, but it doesn't change the underlying facts. the underlying facts are that this was pursued initially as an opt-in or opt-out for all states. it was impossible to do that at the present time, and so as a matter of fix, there was in fact the extension of the federal dollars from the year 2017 on. well into the future as a marker
to lay down, so that every state could object to this manner of unfunded mandates. now, as a governor -- and my colleague is a former governor -- we fought against federal unfunded mandates. and as a senator back here, i've also fought against unfunded and underfunded federal mandates. and this was in fact exactly that. while we weren't able to get in this legislation an actual opt-out or opt-in for a state-based decision, what we did get was at least a line, if you will, so that in the future other states are going to be able to come forward and say, hey, either the federal government pays for that into the future or the state will have the opportunity to decide not to continue that so that we don't have an unfunded federal mandate. so i'm surprised. i'm shocked. actually i'm not shocked.
i'm disappointed that this would be used and misused in this fashion not only defensively against a great company in nebraska, i'm also disappointed that my colleague would use the name in a colloquy. i'm surprised this colleague went on without understanding the facts of what this so-called carveout, which is not a carveout, truly consisted of. there is no carveout. each state between now and 2017, two-thirds plus of a decade will have an opportunity to come back in and get this bill changed. governors asked for relief. as governors we ask for relief against these continuing uncommon -- unfunded mandates time and time again. we fought against them, and this was one more opportunity to
fund. as a matter of fact, the governor of nebraska spotted this and wrote me a letter on december 16 and said, among other things, "the state of nebraska cannot afford an unfunded mandate, an uncontrolled spending of this magnitude. additionally, nebraskans are very concerned." and he goes on to say a number of other things about the bill, but he makes the point that this is an unfunded federal mandate and wanted me to do something about it. so i sent him back a letter on the same date saying thank you and please be advised that i propose that the senate bill be modified to include an opt-in mechanism to allow states to avoid the issues that you've raised. under my proposal, nebraska prefers not to opt in to a reformed health care system. it would have that rhode island now, my colleagues khrao*eg and others know that this is the case. they know that this is the case,
but they choose to ignore it. they choose to ignore the facts. on the 20th of december i again wrote to the governor asking -- shared with him my concern about this unfunded mandate. and i pointed out that within hours after the amendment was filed, my colleague from nebraska objected to the inclusion of these funds. as a result, i'm prepared to ask that this provision be removed from the amendment in conference if it's the governor's desire. i got a letter back on the day after, on december 21, talking about this as a special deal. it's not a special deal for nebraska. it is in fact an opportunity to get rid of an unfunded federal mandate for all the states. let me repeat that. for all the states. there's nothing special about it, and it's fair. what we've done is we've drawn a line in the sand and said this is unacceptable, and it's
unacceptable for all states as well. i just can't believe that this sort of a situation would continue. there's no -- there's no misunderstanding here. i think it's just an opportunity to mislead, distort and, unfortunately, confuse the american public all the more and to use the state of nebraska and the name of a good company for political, partisan political purposes on the other side of the aisle. now, my colleagues know that i am not a deeply partisan person and that i rarely come to the floor to speak. and that when i come to the floor it's for something like this, to take exception with the misuse of information for partisan purposes. and that's exactly what has been done with this situation. i'm prepared to fight for the state of nebraska, and i hope my colleague is as well. obviously the governor was prepared to fight for the state of nebraska by bringing to my
attention. but i am not prepared to fight tpo get a special deal for the state of nebraska. i did not, and i refuse to accept that kind of responsibility or that kind of a suggestion from anyone on that side of the aisle or anyone else. and then as it relates to abortion, i think my colleagues know that we introduced legislation that is comparable to the stupak legislation in the house dealing with barring the use of federal funds for elective abortions. we introduced it over here. it was bipartisan. it was hatch -- it was nelson nelson-hatch-casey, and it didn't pass. so i began the process of trying to find other solutions that i thought equally walled off the use of federal funds and made it clear that no federal funds would be used. now, apparently i didn't say "mother may i" in the process of writing that language because others took issue with it, even
though they cannot constructively point out how it doesn't prohibit the use of federal funds or wall off those funds or keep them totally segregated. they just didn't like the language. well, you know, if in the conference the stupak-nelson-hatch-casey language passes, i'll be happy, and so will congressman stupak and so would, i would imagine, those who signed on to that legislation. you know, it's unfortunate, though, to continue to distort and misrepresent what happens here in the body of the senate. it's difficult enough to have comity t.'s difficult enough to have cooperation. it's difficult enough to have collegiality. when politics are put above policy and productivity, this is what we get. mr. president, i'm very disappointed, somewhat disillusioned by the use of this method and this technology or this approach that would
undermine the good name of a company in nebraska as well as the name of the state of nebraska by associating it with something that is not -- that has not been done, was not inte operations. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i want to associate myself with the remarks that the majority leader made about all of the people that work at the capitol during the difficult an intense time. we thank you very much for your outstanding service. it's early and i'll be brief. the most obvious problem with the bill before us is it doesn't do what it was supposed to do. the one test for any bill was whether it would lower costs. this bill fails that test.
it's also clear that even many of the people on this side who are going to support this bill don't like it. otherwise, the democratic leaders wouldn't have had such a tough time rounding up the votes. otherwise, democratic leaders would not have had to have votes in the middle of the night or at crack of dawn or over the weekend or even during a blizzard. otherwise, they wouldn't be rushing it through congress on christmas eve. the first time this body has had a vote on the day before christmas in more than a century. this debate was supposed to produce a bill that reformed health care in america. instead, we're left with party line votes in the middle of the night, a couple of sweetheart
deals to get it over the finish line in a truly outrage -- and a truly outraged public. the problem, they were told would be fixed wasn't. i guarantee you the people who voted for this bill are going to get an earful when they finally get home for the first time since thanksgiving. they know there is widespread opposition to this monstrosity. and i want to assure you, mr. president, this fight isn't over. in fact, this fight is long from over. my colleagues and i will work to stop this bill from becoming law. that's the clear will of the american people and we're going to continue to fight on their behalf. mr. reid: mr. president? vice president the majority
leader. mr. reid: like so many endeavors that have benefited so many americans, making health insurance more affordable and health insurance companies more accountable is a process. it's one that is required as to find common ground as we should. that's why, mr. president, we have a piece of legs that over the -- legislation that over the next decade will reduce the deficit by $132 billion. over the next decade, as much as $1.3 trillion. >> everyone knows -- we have the votes in the middle of the night and on christmas eve goes the republicans would not allow us to have votes -- because the republicans would not allow us to have votes any other time. we're going to go home and here and your fault. i am going to hear from a boy who was born with legs that stop here, who needed to set up new
prosthetic devices because the rest of his body is growing, but the insurance company says no because he had a pre-existing disabilities. i will get an earful from his parents, and your full of joy and happiness, because from this day forward, insurance companies will not able to deny coverage because of pre-existing disabilities. people who have children with problems like diabetes or other problems, it is over with, so we will hear an earful, but it is going to be wonderment and happiness people waited for for a long time. this morning is not the end of the process. it is now nearly the beginning. we will continue to improve our health system more and further ease the terrible burdens on american families end business, but that process cannot begin unless we start today. for us to wait for the next time. because, you see, mr. president,
there may not be a next time. nearly 65 years ago, harry truman condemned a system that condemned its citizens to the devastating economic side effects of sickness. nearly 65 years later we still suffer from the same. just months after world war ii came to crease, president harry s. truman wrote in a letter to congress to this body and i quote -- "we should resolve now that the health of this nation is a national concern, that financial barriers and the way of attaining health shall be removed. that the health of all of its citizens deserves the help of all of the nation." decades have passed and these financial barriers have grown taller, but we will never solve the problem unless we find the resolve, which we haven't found, until, mr. president, today. this is how long we've waited. think of those who are just
1-year-old in 194 a 5 -- 1945. there are far too many who have lived their lives have not had any type of health care. any type of health care. coverage got more and more expensive each year. insurance companies found more and more excuses to leave them out in the cold. and for those who worked in small businesses or owned one or moved from job to job, the peace of mind health care can provide was merely a dream. today on the verge of the year 2010, those americans are finally just months away from qualifying for medicare. that's a long time for a citizen to wait for health care in the greatest and richest nation the world has known. how much longer? how much longer can we afford to put this off or ask the uninsured for their patience? until health care costs consume not just a one-sixth of our economy, but a third or a half
or until premiums consume more than half of a family's income? we certainly don't have, mr. president, the luxury of waiting until america becomes the only developed nation on earth where you can die for lack of health insurance. we already bear that blemish. that's why we're bringing security and stability to millions who have health insurance and bringing health insurance to millions who have none. mr. president, can we have order? the vice president: the senate will be in order. mr. reid: what we will do is ensure consumers have more choices and insurance companies face more competition. we'll stand up for insurance who deny health care to the sick and drive millions to bankruptcy and foreclosure. we'll add years to the life of medicare which will add years to the life of seniors. we'll trade a system that demands you pay more and get less for one in which you will pay less and get more.
as we do all this, we'll slash our children's deficit in dramatic fashion. we may not completely cure this crisis today or tomorrow, but we must start toward that end. we must strive for progress and not surrender for one of purity. our charge is to move forward. this is a tradition as old as this republic, one that has always comprised interests and opinions as diverse as the people who populate it. our founding fathers did not promise to form an unfallable new nation. they promised instead to promote the general welfare as we move toward a more perfect union. they valued progress. our nation's earliest leaders promised not absolute happiness but only the pursuit of that goal. they valued opportunity. and like other new programs that improve the lives of many and were since strengthened to improve even more, programs like medicare, medicaid, social security, progress and opportunity are what this
historic bill represents. to those who so admirably care so much for their fellow man that they demand more, i say this is just the beginning. with senator ted kennedy's voice booming in our ears, with his passion in our hearts, we say, as he said, the work goes on, the cause endures. opponents of this bill used every trick in the book to delay this day, this moment. yet here we are minutes away from doing what many have tried but none have ever achieved. we're here because facts will always defeat fear. and though one might slow the progress, they can't stop it. and though one might slow the speed of progress, its force cannot be stopped. mr. president, i'm sorry to say that for the first time in american history, for the first time in american history a political party has chosen to
stand on the sidelines rather than participate in great and greatly needed social change. i'm sorry to see that many on the other side have resorted to myths and misinformation and continue to rely on them long after they were debunked. and it's regrettable that they view our citizens' health care through a political lens, because affording to live a healthy life isn't about politics or partisanship or polling. mr. president, it's about people. it's about life and death in america. it's a question of morality, of right and wrong. it's about human suffering. and given the the chance to relieve this suffering, we must take this chance and deliver on a promise the american people have deserved for six and a half decades. the vice president: the clerk will read the bill for the third time. the clerk: calendar number 175, h.r. 3590, an act to amend
the internal revenue code of 1986 to modify the first-time home buyers credit in the case of members of the armed forces and certain other federal employees, and for other purposes. the vice president: the question is on the passage of h.r. 3590, which is amended, is the patent protection and affordable care act. there is a sufficient second. the -- there appears to be. there is. the yeas and nays are ordered. the clerk will call the roll.
>> this is a victory to the american people. those fortunate enough to have health insurance will be able to keep those, and those who do not will be able to have health insurance. this is a victory because we have a firm the ability to live a healthy life in our great country is the right and not merely a privilege for the select few. this is an enormous undertaking. i want to thank chairman baucaus.
i want to thank my leadership team. they have been remarkably supportive, and i will always be indebted to them. senators marianne harkin -- murry and harkin are off with their families. i look forward to working with my friends in the house so we can send a deal to the president as soon as possible. we're not going to take any questions. >> it has been nearly two years since we began our work on health care reform in the senate, and we're all very proud of this moment. we stand here, but we are not standing alone. we're standing with those who blazed the trail ahead of us, all the way from president roosevelt to our good friend who is with us in spirit, ted kennedy. dear stan -- standing with millions of american families
forced into bankruptcy to cover the cost of health care. this is on behalf of 45,000 americans who died because they simply do not have health insurance. we stand with small-business owners who cannot afford health insurance for their employees. we stand with american companies and all those who have been diagnosed because of a craig -- have been discriminated because of pre- existing conditions. i especially want to thank harry reid for the terrific way he of navigated the waters to get us here. this is going to be a day we are going to look back upon as senators byrd proud of what we have accomplished, but we're very have been -- as senators and be very proud of what we have accomplished. this is why we came here.
this is why we hired out for these jobs, to pass something very historic like this. >> let me thank senator reid. for christmas eve, i cannot think of a better give the united states senate can give to our citizens them lifting the burden of fear from their shoulders, the fear they will not be able to have health care for their families and loved ones in time of need. this is an enormous victory for the american public, and i am proud of the votes cast in favor. last year proved progress is not easy, but it is not impossible. we will provide all americans with the security of having peace in health care. there has never been a vote cast in my tenure that has done as much to relieve the burden that
will provide more security to middle-class and working-class families in america than this one. this is probably the most important vote every member will casting their year, and i am grateful to be a part of it. i wish to 10 candidates -- i wish ted kennedy were here to enjoy it. merry christmas to africa. >> the corridors of the senator filled with portraits and statues of political leaders whose contributions many times have faded into securities -- of security, but i will tell you the contributions made by the senator from nevada will become one of the shining chapters of the history of the united states senate and the nation. he achieved what others have failed and did it with the tenacity and strength and determination i have never seen serving in congress, and i am honored to have stood beside him with so many others to see this
great time to arrive. this is the time of year with long nights of darkness when history tells us from the beginning of time people would gather, and they with their families and friends would look for signs of hope and light a light, even a candle. this morning this vote and the united states senate with the candle of hope for 15 million americans who went to bed without the protection of health insurance. for millions who waited this morning wonder if they will ever win that battle with health insurance companies for the coverage they need, for the surgical procedure, for medication, it is also cannell of hope for this nation that we're finally tackling an issue every business those is central to our progress of the nation. we have succeeded through our efforts with the senators, but also with the help and leadership of the president, who made this the highest item on
his agenda and told us he would work hard night and day to reach this moment. we owe our appreciation to him and the united -- the vice president especially for presiding over this historic session this morning. >> thank you, and i have the holiday, merry christmas, have been a year to everybody. -- have a holiday, merry christmas, happy new year to everyone. this cuts out an endemic to our system and covers 31 million people. who would have thought we could do both in the same bill? who would have thought we did do it without a single republican vote and getting everyone of the 60 democratic votes? who would have thought we could finally get a handle on the thing driving our budget deficit to great heights, which is health care costs, and at the same time do so much could by
covering so many people? this is an amazing accomplishment. it would be under ordinary times. it is even more amazing under extraordinary times, and the three horsemen under this bill stand behind me. senator reid did an amazing job. i am rocked with ofawe. max baucus who persisted and persisted, no matter what was thrown in the way, and chris dodd, who kept the spirit of kennedy in reaching for the highest values. this is a happy day. mitch mcconnell said on the floor that we are going to go home and hear our constituents complain about this bill. i do not believe that. i believe the negativity that
leader mcconnell and others have continually displayed on the bill months -- on the floor as pete. as people would give the bill, it will become more popular because it is good for america, good for the american people, and the true symbol of what we can do if we all pull together. >> [inaudible] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] >> good morning, everybody. in a historic moment that took place this morning, members of the senate to join their colleagues in the house to pass the landmark health insurance reform.
legislation brings us to the end of the nearly century-long struggle to reform america pause health care system. ever since teddy roosevelt first call for reform in 1912, the president's, democrats and republicans alike, have taken up the cause. time and time again, such efforts have been fought by special interest lobbyists who want the status quo which does more for the insurance company than the american people, but with passage of reform bill and the house and senate, we're poised to deliver on the promise of meaningful health insurance reform that will bring additional security and stability to the american people. the reform bill the past and the senate this morning, like the house vote, includes the toughest measures ever taken to hold the insurance industry accountable. insurance companies will no longer be able to deny you coverage on the basis of a pre-
existing issue in -- condition. they will no longer be able to drop coverage in case you get sick regan the longer will you be able to pay out of your own car for the treatment needed. you will be able to richard no longer will you be able to pay out of your own pocket for the treatment needed. families will save on their premiums. businesses that would see their costs rise if we do not act will save money now and they will save money in the future. this bill will strengthen medicare and extend the life of the program. it will make coverage affordable for over 30 million americans who do not have it. because it is paid for and curbs the waste and inefficiencies in our health-care system, this will help reduce our deficit by as much as 1.3 trillion dollars in the coming decades, making it
the largest reduction of debt plan in over a decade. these are not small reforms. these are big reforms. if passed, this will be the most important piece of social legislation since the social security act passed in the 1930 cost and the most important reform of our health-care system since medicare passed in the 1960's. what makes it so important is not just cost savings or debt reductions. it is the impact reform will have on americans who no longer have to go without a checkup or prescription they need because they cannot afford them, on families who no longer have to worry that a single illness will send them to financial ruin, and on businesses that will no longer face exorbitant insurance rates that have for their competitiveness. it is the difference reform will make in the lives of the american people. i want to commend senator harry reid for the easterner work that he did, speaker pelosi for the
-- for the extraordinary work he did, speaker policy for the work she did. we now have to take of the last and most important step and reach an agreement on a final reform bill i can sign in august. i look forward to working to do exactly that carried with today's vote, we are now incredibly -- i look forward to working to do that. with today's votes, we are incredibly close. we cannot do with another generation of americans with soaring costs and exploding decades. we need to do what we were sent here to do and improve the lives of the people we serve. for the sake of our economy and our citizens and future, let's make 2010 be the year though we finely reform health care for the united states of america. -- a year we finally reform health care for the united
states of america. >> do you have a holiday wish for the troops? >> i do, and i am on my way to call a few of them and wish them merry xmas thank them for their extraordinary service. >> the next up for health care legislation is negotiations to merge senate and house versions of the bill. the usual conference process may give way to go faster a perch, a deal worked out in private and pass to one chamber -- a faster approach, a deal worked out in private and passed on to chamber. the second session of the 111th congress begins in january with the house reconvening january 12
and the senate returning to legislative business on january 20. >> now queen elizabeth's annual christmas message. the queen talks about the war in afghanistan, where 106 british soldiers were killed this year. she talks about the commonwealth group recently celebrating its 60th anniversary. ♪ ["god save the queen" plays] ♪
>> each year that passes seems to have a tone character. 2009 was a difficult year for many, in particularly those facing the difficult affects of the economic downturn. i am sure we have all been affected by defense in afghanistan and saddened by the casualties -- by events in afghanistan and saddened by the casualties suffered by our forces serving there. our thoughts go out to the relations and friends who are shown immense dignity in the face of great personal loss. ♪
we can be proud of the positive contributions our service men are making along with our allies. there were 13,000 soldiers in england and across the commonwealth serving in afghanistan. the depth of gratitude owed to these young men and women and their predecessors is indeed profound. is it 60 years since the
commonwealth was created, and today with more than a billion of its members of the age of 25, the organization remains a strong and practical force for good. recently, i attended the commonwealth heads of government meeting in trinidad and tobago and heard how are important the commonwealth is too young people. >> i think the commonwealth means unity and the fact we are all of the countries together, an amalgamation of different cultures. >> of french of that is important in today's world. >> -- of friendship that is important today's world. >> it is a group with the equality for all. >> my feeling of what the commonwealth is is unity in different countries and appreciating diversity and really creating a family feeling
across the world. >> what we plan to do is acquire -- >> new communication technologies allow them to reach out to the wider world and share their experiences and few points -- viewpoints. for many, the networks of the commonwealth can give skills, advice, and encourage enterprise. it is inspiring to learn some of the work being done by these young people who bring creativity and innovation to the challenges we face. >> they are disappearing, and many countries seem very concerned about that. >> it is important to keep discussing issues that concern us all. it can be no more valuable role
for our family of nations. i have been carefully associated with the commonwealth through most of its existence. the bond i enjoy with leaders and the people the world over has always been more important in promoting our unity than symbolism alone. the commonwealth is not an organization with a mission. it is rather an opportunity for its people to work together and achieve practical solutions to problems. in many aspects of our lives, whether in thought, the environment, business, or culture, the commonwealth connection remains enriching. ♪ it is in lots of ways the face of the future, and with
continuing support and dedication, i am confident this perverse commonwealth of nations -- i am confident this perverse commonwealth of nations can create a common bond. we know christmases' a time for celebration and family reunions, but it is also a time to reflect on those less fortunate than ourselves throughout the world. christians are taught to love their neighbors, having passion -- compassion and concern in be able to do charity and volunteer work to ease the burden of disadvantage. we made ourselves be confronted by a bewildering array of difficulties and challenges, but we must never cease to work for a better future for ourselves