Just when you think the health care debate is finally over, legislators pull us back in again.
Though the health care reform bill was passed by the House on Sunday and signed by President Obama yesterday, it still has to pass through the Senate one more time so legislators can vote on a series of changes to the bill. Yet, once again, politicians in Washington have proved that debating this issue is nothing less than a blood sport, a battle of wills.
Wednesday night, senators debated the changes for 9 1/2 hours until 3 a.m., and they still have more debating left to do today. One big consideration in this process is the fact that if any amendments are added to the bill, the whole thing has to be sent back to the House and voted on all over again. So republicans, eager to delay the bill from becoming reality, decided to propose a series of amendments that would be controversial for democrats to turn down.
Already, the democrats have been forced to go on record voting against 29 republican amendments, several of which would normally have gained bipartisan support, in order for the health reform bill to remain intact. The most notable was a proposal from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to prevent child molesters and rapists from using Medicare payments to cover viagra. The amendment was turned down by a vote of 57 to 42, meaning there are now 57 senators who have gone on record essentially arguing that government funding should be used to help empower a sex offender’s libido.
"There's no attempt to improve the bill," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, according to ABC News. "There's an attempt to destroy this bill."
In addition to the viagra amendment, the Christian Science Monitor reports that one senator proposed forcing all members of Congress to rely solely on Medicaid, while another proposed eliminating all of the backroom “sweetheart deals” from the bill. One-by-one the amendments were shot down by the democratic majority, but after all that, the bill will still have to go back to the House.