Monday, March 22, 2010


Editor’s note: We will update this post throughout the day as more comments are received.

While Arkansas’ House members quickly put out statements regarding their positions on last night’s health care vote, the contenders for House and Senate have also been making noise.

Not surprisingly, Republicans have been in lock-step in their opposition to the vote and their opposition to the bill passed by the House. 3rd District Congressional challenger Gunner DeLay seems to have carried the rhetoric the farthest so far with his call for “civil disobedience.”

In a press release distributed this morning, DeLay called on a “people’s crusade” to “take back their government” similar to the civil rights movement of the 20th century.

“As 3rd District Congressman, I would be committed to supporting this movement, including any acts of civil disobedience that may be necessary to affect change,” said DeLay.

The Democrats had more nuanced and varied responses. Several leading Congressional candidates weighed in late in the day. The following is a round-up.

U.S. Senate:
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D)
“The United States House of Representatives voted to approve the Senate Health Insurance reform bill that I helped craft and which I supported last year. I now look forward to the President signing this historic legislation into law,” said Lincoln. “Even with its imperfections, this bill represents the most morally and fiscally responsible approach to health reform. I have fought for health care reform to reduce costs for small business owners and the self-employed so they can reinvest the savings in their companies and hire more workers.”

Lincoln warned that a misinformation campaign would continue on what’s in the bill. She also reiterated her opposition to the reconciliation process.

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D)
Halter, who has expressed support for the reconciliation process, said, “I urge Senator Lincoln to join me in putting Arkansans first by supporting passage of this bill as soon as possible,” continued Halter. “Arkansans have waited too long for health care reforms. It's time to say no to the insiders, lobbyists and special interests who have fought against progress for Arkansans and to pass this legislation now.”

Congressional Dist. 1:
Chad Causey (D)
“After more than a year of vigorous debate, Congress voted last night to pass health insurance reform. After talking with and listening to many Arkansans, I am more convinced than ever that we must improve our health care system. However, there are too many pieces of the bill that passed last night that I remain uneasy about,” said Causey. “Many of the mandates placed on individuals and small business are coming at a time when our economy can least afford it. I have great concerns about increasing taxes, cutting Medicare and the way this bill will impact future deficits. One thing is for certain, the road to reforming America’s health care industry will be a long one. If elected to represent the people of Arkansas in Congress, I will work to improve upon the bill that was passed last night.”

UPDATE: A spokesman for Causey clarified to Talk Business that Causey would not have voted for the bill presented during the House debate on Sunday night.

Steve Bryles (D)
“I was not a part of the discussion, debate or negotiation of the health care bill. The bill that passed the House last night contains many details only those in the discussions were privy to, so I can’t honestly say I would have voted for or against it,” said Bryles. “What I can say is that I support health care reform. The current system is broken and must be fixed. Too many people are going without care, insurance companies have too much influence on health decisions and the cost of health care is skyrocketing out of control. If elected, I will work to insure that health care reform provides affordable access to all Americans without bankrupting the budget.”

Tim Wooldridge (D) - “Tim Wooldridge does not support the current health care bill as it is written. As a constituent of our sitting Congressman, Mr. Wooldridge knows and respects the job he is doing. The number one function of a member of congress is to do his constituents bidding and Mr. Wooldrigde is confident that Congressman Berry is taking the wishes of his constituents into account on his vote,” said Tina Coggin, spokesman for Wooldridge’s campaign.

Congressional Dist. 2:
David Boling (D)
"I applaud last night's passage of historic health insurance reform legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Boling, who also outlined some of the expected reforms from the measure.

“This legislation is a middle-of-the-road, sensible approach that incorporates good ideas from both sides of the aisle. It is not a perfect bill, and I look forward to addressing ongoing health coverage concerns as a member of Congress. It is, however, a profound step in the right direction.”

Joyce Elliott (D)
While not a formal statement, Elliott made comments on her Facebook page last night as the vote took place.

“I'm so proud of the work that is being done today on Capitol Hill,” she wrote. “The fight is not over but we're sure getting closer. Healthcare for our citizens should not be a political issue, rather an issue of the morals we value as a society.”

Robbie Wills (D)
“Health insurance reform is needed. Health insurance should be more affordable, portable, and take care of the most vulnerable. The recent vote would have been a very close call for me. Without a commitment from House leadership or the President that addressed Arkansas' unfunded Medicaid mandate, I couldn't have supported it,” said Wills. “The fact is, I was not there to fight for my principles of lowering costs and protecting our budget. My hope is that this bill, now passed, will work as advertised and reduce the deficit and remove the burden of rising health care costs from small business.”

“As Speaker, I've had to balance a state budget. I agree with Governor Beebe that it is something we will have to address here in Arkansas. No one in this race has done more to improve the quality of or the access to health care in Arkansas. As our next Congressman, I will fight for those same principles. Arkansans can know that I will protect our interests and get the job done. My primary focus is to create jobs for Arkansans and get this economy back on track. Removing the burden of rising health care costs from our economy will help us do just that,” Wills added.