As I write this article, I just got off a conference call with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (5th CD), Congressman Doc Hastings (4th CD), and Congressman Dave Reichert (8th CD). After each made an opening statement on the current situation in the healthcare debate (all three are strongly opposed to Obama's healthcare agenda), the conference call was opened up to questions, and I was fortunate to have the first question.
I noted that there will be a National Taxpayers Tea Party March on Wahington, D.C. on Saturday September 12, and that there would be a delegation from Washington State. One of the central themes of the march and rally will be opposition to government-run healthcare. I asked how the timing of the protest march would fit in with the timing of the healthcare debate in the Senate and the House - in the hope that the Tea Party protest could have the biggest possible impact on the healthcare debate. Also, I asked if our congressional delegation would make themselves available to meet on Thursday September 10 or Friday September 11 with early-arriving Washington State rally participants.
Congresswoman McMorris-Rodgers said that she was very "supportive" of the Tea Party movement, and the "timing is going to be excellent." Although Obama and Pelosi want a vote in the House before the August recess, it is unclear at this time whether that will take place. Even if a vote is forced through before the recess, McMorris-Rodgers said. there is still a "long way to go" because the bill would still have to go through the Senate. The final outcome of the healthcare debate is by no means certain. "It's still very much in play," the congresswoman said.
Congressman Hastings said that Obama, Pelosi, and the Democrats are pushing for a House vote before the August recess because they have "a legislative strategy in mind of passing it before the public knows what is in it." He said it was still in doubt whether the vote would occur before the recess, but even if it does "it will not get to the president's desk in August." Therefore, Hastings said, the period of the August recess is extremely important for bloggers, grassroots activists, Tea Party protesters, radio talk show hosts - and members of congress - to advance the debate and make sure "everybody feels the heat" with exposure about the contents of the bill and the true implications of the Obama government-run healthcare plan.
Hastings said that congress gets back from recess on September 8, so it conceivably might be possible for early-arriving Tea Party protesters to try to arrange meetings with members of congress.
Congressman Dave Reichert stated that up to this point Republicans in House committees have been united against the Obama healthcare proposal, and that they have had a small number of Democratic congressmen join them in opposition. Several times, Reichert reminded us that he is the only Republican congressman in Western Washington, and that he is often "the target of protests and robo-call attacks" from the Democrats. He sais that he was excited about the "leadership role" of bloggers, grassroots activists, and the Tea Party movement, and that the September 12 March on Washington, D.C. was "good timing." Reichert said that he was glad to see "our side [of the healthcarfe debate] finally get organized."
Reichert pointed out that small businesses are a key group that can be won over to opposition to the president's healthcare proposals "because they're going to get hit hard" with heavy taxation.