As support for the Republican health care plan was collapsing on Friday, freshman GOP Rep. Jason Lewis’ backing never faltered.
“I rise today in support of the [proposal] and I ask the other side, just what is it you’re trying to preserve by voting no?” Lewis asked in a passionate House floor speech.
He went on to cite premiums rising at double-digit rates, millions of Americans paying a tax penalty rather than buying insurance, skyrocketing insurance deductibles for some and emergency legislation in Minnesota earlier this year to prop up a struggling individual insurance market.
“You can embrace the status quo and see the markets spiral out of control completely, or you can vote for change and do the right thing,” Lewis said. But it wasn’t long after Lewis finished speaking that House Republican leadership yanked the bill from the floor, saying they lacked the votes to pass it.
Lewis and Minnesota’s other two Republican congressmen, Reps. Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer, had all voiced support for the health care proposal. But a revolt by many of their own caucus members, led by hard-line conservatives, doomed its chances.
In a statement afterward, Lewis said he was disappointed but added that, “I also understand the decision and remain committed to helping enact real health care reform.”
Paulsen issued this statement: “I’m disappointed that we were unable to take a step toward helping Americans who are facing Obamacare’s skyrocketing premiums and dwindling health care choices. I remain committed to providing solutions that will make sure Americans have access to high quality, affordable health care.”
Emmer had not issued a statement by 8 p.m. On Facebook, he posted a picture with his wife and wished her a happy birthday.
Rep. Collin Peterson was one of 34 Democrats to oppose the Affordable Care Act in 2010, but he said he opposed the GOP measure and had talked to a lot of moderate Republicans who shared his concerns.
“This bill should not be repealed, it should be fixed,” Peterson said in an interview. “And now instead of fixing it, we have another partisan dust-up … you cannot sustain a change to this healthcare system that’s going to stick and actually work over the long term unless it’s bipartisan.”
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., tweeted, “Don’t gloat; get ready for round 2. Organize!” after the bill was pulled.