The two Arizona Congressman who represent most of the East Valley split their votes as the House of Representatives passed its version of a health care reform bill last weekend.
The two Arizona congressmen who represent most of the East Valley split their votes as the House of Representatives passed its version of a health care reform bill last weekend.
U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., whose district includes west Mesa, parts of Chandler, Tempe and Scottsdale, said he supported the bill even though he has a few remaining concerns.
Mitchell, who has been a target of Tea Party organizers locally who have opposed President Obama's approach to health care reform, said the bill can be improved further as the Senate takes up the matter next.
"While concerns over some issues remain, it contains no death panels or government takeovers of health care, and it will not dismantle the private insurance industry. If I believed it did, I wouldn't vote to move it forward. Most folks in Washington seem to be more concerned with scoring political points for next year's election than delivering reforms we need. The political way out would be a vote to do nothing. But playing it safe, which I could do, is why big problems - like health care and immigration reform - have yet to be tackled. I didn't come to Congress to do nothing," Mitchell said, in a statement released in advance of his vote.
"I believe further improvements need to be made, and the House needs to work with the Senate to get it done," Mitchell added. "I believe this bill can be better in order to improve our health insurance system. I also agree with the recent remarks of Republican Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) when she said that when history calls, history calls and that there should be no mistake about it: my vote today, is my vote today. And it in no way forecasts my vote for a final bill in the future. But we can only make those improvements if we move the ball forward. American lives are depending on it."
U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., whose district includes most of Mesa, parts of Chandler, as well as Gilbert and Queen Creek, opposed the bill.
"This bill is a jobs-killer; it's the last thing we should be doing when we're dealing with 10 percent unemployment," said Flake, in a prepared statement.
"There's no question that our health care system is in need of reform. However, a costly top-to-bottom overhaul of the entire system by the federal government isn't the right approach,'' he said. "We ought to address deficiencies and make enhancements to our current system through medical liability reform, health savings accounts, associated health plans, and other free-market-oriented reforms that lower costs, encourage innovation, and empower individuals."
Arizona's delegation split along party lines in the vote, which saw the bill pass by a 220-215 tally.
Joining Mitchell among Arizona Democrats voting for the bill were Reps. Raul Grijalva, Gabrielle Giffords, Ann Kirkpatrick and Ed Pastor. Joining Flake in opposition were Reps. Trent Franks and John Shadegg.