Democrat Chet Edwards (TX-17) Still a "No" on Healthcare Bill

March 4, 2010

From Washington — Once again, it will be a “no” from Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, on healthcare as congressional Democrats scramble for every critical vote.

“If the question is whether I would vote for the comprehensive health care bill currently being considered, the answer is ‘no,'” Edwards said in a statement to the Star-Telegram. “After listening to my constituents, I voted ‘no’ on the House bill last year, and I will vote ‘no’ on the Senate bill this year if it comes up for a vote.”

Edwards faces the same kind of pressure he did in November, when he broke ranks with most Democrats and joined all but one Republican House member in voting against the healthcare bill.

“I believe Congress should dramatically reduce the scope and costs of the bills, focus on key issues such as holding down costs, ending the anti-trust exemption for health insurance companies, and preventing discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions and try to develop a bipartisan bill that would unite, not divide, our country,” Edwards said.

The White House and Democratic leaders in Congress are scrambling to find enough votes in the House to pass the Senate version of the bill to take advantage of a parliamentary procedure that means Senate Democrats need only a simple majority of 51 votes to pass the bill.

As part of the deal, President Barack Obama has offered a modified bill that would incorporate changes advocated by Republicans and eliminate preferential treatment to such states as Louisiana and Nebraska that had provoked an outcry against the bill.

The House vote is expected in a few weeks. Edwards’ press secretary, Josh Taylor, said that the lawmaker has been contacted by the White House and by Democratic leaders but that “he has again said ‘no.'”

Edwards, who is close to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is a so-called cardinal because of his chairmanship of the powerful Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies.