On Health Care and War Funding, Welch in the Nexus (UPDATE: Welch leaning towards a 180 on war $$?)

UPDATE: Hamsher reports, based on feedback from Paul Martin of Peace Action who is lobbying on this, that Welch is leaning in the direction of abandoning his position and supporting the war funding supplemental without a timetable for withdrawal. A lot of us stuck up for him when he was getting beat up on his handling of this stuff, so I can say with certainty that he’s gonna catch hell if he does flip. I haven’t been able to get anything definitive from his office myself, so I’ll keep trying. Folks should definitely be calling (numbers below). Don’t let us down, Peter.

Peter Welch is getting a lot of positive attention on health care reform, but an all-too familiar issue may be on the horizon for the coming week

On health care, while battle lines are being drawn over the so-called “public option” in any reform legislation, Welch is already aggressively moving to introduce legislation to guarantee its inclusion. In a nutshell, reform legislation will present taxpayers with a menu of mostly commercial insurer options to buy into, which will be subsidized for low income earners. A “public option” would be a government payer (a la medicare or medicaid) as one of the menu choices. Obviously this makes subsidizing easier on the one hand, but also allows the feds more control over the types of coverage. Private insurers are afraid any public option would be too appealing and affordable and draw away business – and both opponents and proponents of a single payer system see this as a way to potentially facilitate a transition to such a model. Welch put himself in front of the argument two days ago (along with Reps. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bruce Braley (D-Iowa)) by introducing H.R. 2668, the Choice in Health Options Insures Care for Everyone (CHOICE) Act, which doesn’t wait for a megabill and would mandate a public option be included and paid for by premiums.

So big good on Peter on the one hand, yes?

…but behind door two…

Fast approaching (next Thursday, probably) is a vote on yet another supplemental to Iraq War funding. Welch is among those who vowed not to approve any more such funds unless they included a timetable for withdrawal – and he has held to that vow in the past. But there’s a new Sheriff in town in the form of a Democratic President, and some Representatives who made such vows are showing signs of wavering – and, according to Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake, one of them is Mr. Welch:

I get emails:
Some folks in a position to have an informed opinion think that Peter Welch is going to go with Barney Frank and vote in favor of the war supplemental.

I thought Vermont had a peace movement.

Comes from a friend who’s been up on the Hill lobbying.

I guess some people think this one is going to fall down the memory hole.  Don’t think so.

While Representatives such as Frank and Jackson-Lee have indicated they will weenie out on this, we trust that Rep. Welch will join fellow progressives like Baldwin, Conyers and Woolsey and stick to his guns (so to speak). You can encourage him with a phone call at (202) 225-4115 or (202) 225-4115, or use the Whip tool at fdl here. Word is that the pressure is turned up to 11 on this bill (which includes the controversial IMF bailout language), with Rahm Emanuel working legislators relentlessly and Nancy Pelosi herself playing whip, so counter pressure is definitely called for. According to Hamsher, “Members are being bribed, bullied and cajoled into abandoning their commitment to vote against any war funding that doesn’t include a time table to bring the troops home.”

We’ll keep you informed on both these issues as things develop.

6 thoughts on “On Health Care and War Funding, Welch in the Nexus (UPDATE: Welch leaning towards a 180 on war $$?)

  1. I thought Vermont had a peace movement

    Yet another reason not to believe the “liberal media”.  I remember the beginnings of a VT peace movement, lasted about 6 months in 2003.

    Public opinion here may be fiercely against (the) war, but a movement would suggest, well, motion and things happening.  No such luck here.

  2. Thanks for putting these issues on the table. But, with regards to the health care issue, I need to question your statement regarding Welch’s advocacy of a “public option.” Specifically, you say:

    both opponents and proponents of a single payer system see this as a way to potentially facilitate a transition to such a model

    Sorry, but you either have single payer or you don’t. Any attempts to “transition” to a single payer system — as some Catamount Plan proponents claimed it would — have only stymied, delayed and/or killed a true single payer model. Think: Hillary Clinton, circa 1992.

    Advocating “a little bit” of single payer health care reform is like trying to get “a little bit” pregnant. Good luck with that.

    It’s not surprising to me that Welch is trying to have it both ways when it comes to the health care debate. He is, after all, a co-sponsor of both the single payer bill and the hybrid bill. He’s been pulling the same thing with the Iraq war — oppose it but fund it.

    Hmm, I guess that’s why he had a hard time with “yes or no” questions.

    And, please, keep your voices down, the peace “movement” is sleeping.


  3. AP has a story in today’s FreeP suggesting that the war funding bill is “back on track” in a quid pro quo agreement with Pres. Obama: he guarantees the detainee abuse photos never get released, and the House and Senate conference committee moves the war-funding bill (the $106 billion budget supplemental). It funds the war(s) through this fiscal year (ending on Sept. 30, 2009).

    Here’s one interesting throw-away line: “Competing House and Senate versions of the war-funding bill passed by wide margins in both chambers…”

    There’s no indication on the Congressman’s own website as to how he voted on the House version of the war-funding bill. And when you look at his “Issues and Legislation” menu, Ending the War in Iraq is right there, with this quote:

    Ending the War in Iraq

    We must end this war.  I opposed it before it began, and I oppose it now.  I will do everything I can that will bring us closer to the day when our troops are home.

    His most recent press release related to “Ending the War” dates to April 8, 2008, or more than a year ago.

    He voted against the House supplemental bill (HR 2346) on May 14, along with 50 other Democrats and 9 Republicans, but it passed 368-60. The Democrats against included Barney Frank, John Conyers, Carol Shea-Porter (NH), Lee of California, and Napolitano (Grace, of California, not Janet).

    He’s under the wing of leadership, and he cares a LOT about that, and they will pass the supplemental, and he won’t want to piss them off, unless he can turn it to his advantage in playing to the pressure from home.


    What a country calls its vital economic interests are not the things which enable its citizens to live, but the things which enable it to make war. Petrol is more likely than wheat to be a cause of international conflict. ~ Simone Weil

  4. twice this week, the person who answered just said he was

    still ‘considering it’ [the bill]. Constituent service sucks at his DC and Burlington office. I was polite and stressed my opinion that he should vote “No” (was told that message would be passed to the congressman). The second time I phoned (Friday afternoon), I told the person that I’d read that Welch was leaning “yes” (I’d got this from Hamsher’s updates @ FDL). Didn’t matter, no commitment from his office. In fact, the persons told me each time, “he’s been busy” and “I’ve not had a chance to talk to him about it.”  

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