Local News

Bay Area lawmakers at forefront of health care debate

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bay Area lawmakers are unified in support of the health care bill including East Bay congressman Jerry McNerney, though he waited until this weekend to announce he would vote yes. This is leading conservatives to call for change at the ballot box this November.

California lawmakers were at the center of some of the most heated moments of the Sunday's debate and it was a debate that went on and on.

"This utterly ill-conceived bill is so dangerous and is such an unfortunate missed opportunity for a good bipartisan solution," said Republican Rep. David Dreier of San Dimas.

Across the aisle from their conservative Southern California colleagues, liberal Bay Area Democrats had nothing but praise.

"We all cast our vote for all of the people who deserve health care but simply cannot afford it," said Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland.

It was not just in the House chamber. Bay Area Democrats made their arguments in favor of health care reform on the morning talk shows and anywhere else they could.

"Small businesses... Small businesses are going to receive a 35 percent tax credit for the cost of health insurance they provide to their employees," said Democratic Rep. John Garamendi of Walnut Creek.

"We have now 8 million people without any insurance in California. The number has gone up a million people a year for the last two years, so this bill is necessary," Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.

Republicans say that focus on lawmakers' own states weighed down the bill with too many earmarks and they made every effort to stop it.

"My point of order is intended to stop the bill until earmarks can be removed from the bill," said Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of San Diego.

Among the Bay Area lawmakers, Pleasanton Democrat Jerry McNerney took the longest to make up his mind. Just Saturday, he announced he planned to vote in favor.

With the votes she needs apparently lined up, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had her historic gavel ready for the historic vote, the same gavel used to pass the country's Medicare law.

"We're doing this one for the American people," she said. "For their health, for their opportunity, for their job success and for the education of their children," she said.

A group of Tea Party activists demonstrated above Highway 24 in Lafayette Sunday afternoon. They told ABC7 they realized their protest would not change any minds in Washington, but said they hoped to get some support in the East Bay and plan to take their revenge at the ballot box in November.

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Tags:
lafayette, health insurance, health care, nancy pelosi, john garamendi, barbara lee, local news, cecilia vega
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