Congresswoman speaks out about health care, issues
Congresswoman Martha Roby took the oath of office last week as a member of the 112th Congress with big plans to help her district and nation. She is only the second woman in Alabama to be elected to a national office that wasn’t once held by her husband.
Roby’s first action in Congress was a vote to make Republican Rep. Joe Boehner Speaker of the House, but she said even bigger votes are on the horizon.
Roby, last Friday, was among 236 representatives who approved the rules for debate of the repeal of health care reform legislation that passed last year.
The house was expected to vote to repeal the health care reform legislation passed last year, but the action was postponed following Saturday’s shooting of Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that left six dead and many more critically wounded.
In a statement about the attack, Roby said, “I was heartbroken to hear the news of the heinous attack on my colleague, Rep. Giffords. It is a sad day when an American who is serving his or her country becomes a victim of such a senseless act of violence. One of the characteristics that make America exceptional is that we settle our differences through civil dialogue, democratic rule and the fair adjudication of disputes based on the rule of law—not through cowardly acts of violence.
There is simply no place for that in American society and it should never be tolerated. The person responsible for this horrific crime must be held accountable and punished to the full extent of the law. Our thoughts and prayers got out to Rep. Giffords, her staff and their family and friends during this very difficult time.”
A vote on the repeal is expected to be rescheduled, but at press time a date had not been set.
Health care reform legislation, as it was passed in 2010, is “job-killing legislation,” said Roby.
Individuals have not been creating new jobs because they haven’t known how the legislation would affect their bottom line financially, she said.
Despite expectations for the repeal to pass in the Republican-controlled House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed to block a repeal of the law in the Senate that maintains a Democrat majority.
Despite expectations for repeal efforts to fail, President Barack Obama’s administration officials have threatened that Obama will use veto power to kill the repeal.
“The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 2 (the repeal bill) because it would explode the deficit, raise costs for the American people and businesses, deny an estimated 32 million people health insurance, and take us back to the days when insurers could deny, limit or drop coverage for any American,” the White House said in an official statement of administration policy.
The statement also says the repeal “would increase the deficit by $230 billion in the first decade.”
Republican leadership has said the $230 billion is a skewed number from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The number is based on “budgetary gimmicks” based on budget numbers included in the health care law, Republican officials, including House Speak John Boehner claim.
Republicans released Jan. 6 a statement countering White House claims the repeal would lead to job losses, countering that the health care law “when fully implemented” would cost $2.6 trillion and “add $701 billion to the deficit in its first 10 years.”
The newly elected Republican House is not solely seeking to repeal the health care reform legislation, however. Republicans are working under the mantra “repeal and replace,” said Roby.
The country, she said, is in need of “real health care reform,” reform that will “not be on the backs of the taxpayers.”
Republicans continue to fight for health care reform that would give states the ability to form health care reform at the state level, allow for the purchase of insurance across state lines, address malpractice liability and allow individuals, small businesses and trade associations to join together to purchase insurance much like large corporations, said Roby.
While Roby awaits a vote to repeal the health care law, 23 states, including Alabama, are moving forward with a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Attorneys general from each state are arguing the health care law is unconstitutional because the law allows the federal government to exceed its powers as given under Article I of the Constitution by requiring individuals to purchase insurance.
The suit also claims the law is a violation of the Constitution’s 10th Amendment because it requires the states to spend funding to implement the law without reimbursement.
The 10th Amendment says, “Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states.”
A tax penalty implemented by the law, the attorneys are also arguing, violates Article I, sections two and nine of the Constitution because it constitutes an indirect tax.
No ruling has been issued at this time.
In a separate lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson in December ruled in favor of Virginia and struck down a portion of the health care reform law that requires individuals to purchase insurance or the “individual mandate.” The lawsuit will now be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
Though the health care debate and a vote to repeal the current law is a headline grabber nationally, Roby said Congress has difficult decisions to make in the upcoming months.
Roby co-authored legislation that would require a balanced national budget.
“The legislation cuts the budget by 5 percent,” she said. “The federal government should not spend more than it has.”
With a balanced budget comes spending cuts, which will reportedly include the annual budget for the Department of Defense.
“I understand the importance of our two military installations (Fort Rucker and Maxwell Air Force Base) in our district,” Roby said. “I am committed to our military and ensuring they have all the tools necessary to have a successful mission.”
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Roby said she will work to ensure the strength of both installations.