The energetic start to the 112th Congress was followed by somber reflection among federal lawmakers who postponed all legislative activity last week on Capitol Hill after an Arizona shooting left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in critical condition and six others dead.
Focus back on repeal
After mourning, House set to scrap reform bill
On Jan. 14, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's office released a new legislative schedule that calls for the House to consider Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act on Jan. 18. The schedule allows for seven hours of general debate, and House members are expected to complete consideration of the repeal bill on Jan. 19.
Then they will consider a resolution to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Jan. 20. That resolution directs several House committees to begin work on legislation that fosters economic growth and job creation; lowers healthcare premiums through greater competition and choice; expands incentives to encourage personal responsibility for healthcare costs; and eliminates duplicative government programs and wasteful spending. It also includes one amendment that seeks a permanent fix to the physician payment system (Jan. 10, p. 8).
A spokeswoman for Cantor's office said in an e-mail last week that “Americans have legitimate concerns about the cost of the new healthcare bill and its effect on the ability to grow jobs in our country. It is our expectation that the debate will continue to focus on those substantive policy differences surrounding the new law.”
House leaders had scheduled a Jan. 12 vote on whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but spent the day instead on a resolution honoring the victims who died Jan. 8 in Tucson: Christina Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, U.S. District Judge John Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard and Gabriel Zimmerman.
On the evening of Jan. 12, President Barack Obama commended U.S. healthcare providers in a memorial speech at the University of Arizona. “And we are grateful for the doctors, and nurses and first responders who worked wonders to heal those who'd been hurt,” Obama said. “We are grateful to them.”
In remembering the victims during his University of Arizona speech, Obama urged the nation to see the shootings not as an occasion to turn on each other, but as one to expand moral imaginations; listen more carefully; and sharpen instincts for empathy.
“If, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse,” Obama said, “let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy—it did not—but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.”
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