Monday, August 3, 2009

HR 676 will be debated by the House after recess--now here's what you have to do to help it pass!

Friday night as the House Energy and Commerce Committee completed its markup of HR 3200, the House health reform bill, Chairman Henry Waxman interrupted Representative Anthony Weiner of New York to say that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had promised that single payer legislation, HR 676, The United States National Health Care Act would come before the entire House of Representatives. Chairman Waxman advised:

"The Speaker has said that she will allow this to be brought up on the House floor, and debated, and voted on."

Representative Anthony Weiner (NY-9, Brooklyn/Queens) had placed an amendment (read it here) before the Energy and Commerce Committee that would have replaced the text of HR 3200 with the text of HR 676, the United States National Health Care Act. He was joined by fellow Energy and Commerce committee members Peter Welch (VT, Vermont), Mike Doyle (PA-14, Pittsburgh), Tammy Baldwin, (WI-2, Madison), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9, Chicago), Bobby L. Rush (IL-1, Chicago), Eliot L. Engel (NY-17, Rockland/Westchester).

Chairman Waxman asked for the single payer amendment to be withdrawn from committee debate in exchange for a debate and vote on the House floor. Representative Weiner hailed this victory in a brief statement: "Single-payer is a better plan and now it is on center stage. Americans have a clear choice. Their Member of Congress will have a simpler, less expensive and smarter bill to choose. I am thrilled that the Speaker is giving us that choice."

You can see video of Rep. Weiner introducing the amendment here.

This entry on Physicians for a National Health Plan's blog includes more video links and commentary by a few Hill bloggers.

So what does this mean?

It means you have your marching orders. The recess is make or break time for single payer. We can't just let our legislators spend August fundraising!

Call your representative and senators' district offices and find out their schedules. Bird-dog them. Go to "town meeting" events and state your support for single payer--chances are you'll get a lot of support from the audience.
It's up to us. Calls, visits, postcard and petition campaigns all build visibility, educate our neighbors, and inspire them to act as well.

Don't forget to let your legislator know that inaction on behalf of single payer health care will have political consequences. The decision to allow a floor debate on HR 676 didn't just happen--we made it happen by calling, writing, emailing, and in some cases demonstrating--up to the point of getting arrested. More than 50,000 people contacted Energy and Commerce Committee members in support of the Weiner amendment in just the past week. We need to keep up the contacts, not just with our legislators but with family, friends, co-workers, faith groups--to bring them into the fight as well.

No comments: