Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo is trying to downplay the political impact of the Republican upset win in the Massachusetts senate race Tuesday. “Well I think you can’t take a single senate race and try to make strong judgments about what that means for the rest of the country, or you could look at the house race that we won in upstate New York that we won recently and try to turn that into a referendum on the Obama agenda,” Braley says.
Braley says it is clear that American voters want a response to the economic crisis that we are in. He says that’s why he recently said in an interview that his advice to the president was to get out and spend as much time as he could in connecting with average Americans who have lost their jobs and who are struggling to get health care for their families.
Braley says the more the issue is raised in congress, the more likely the president is to respond to that recommendation and to be more visible addressing the economic problems that people are facing in Iowa. Braley says that will be the focus of his agenda in this legislative session.
Braley says there are still several options for passing health care reform even though senate Democrats have lost their 60 vote advantage. Braley says one is the house and senate could continue their negotiations and pass a bill through both houses before the Massachusetts senator-elect takes office.
Braley says the other option is the bill could go to a joint committee of the house and senate and some elements of the current legislation, such as Medicare reimbursement, and the elimination of preexisting conditions could be brought back on a piece by piece basis. Braley says it would be difficult to do the piece-by-piece process as it would drag out the health care debate.
Another option is to bring the senate bill forward and pass it without working the differences in the house and senate bill into one bill. “I have very serious reservations about that,” Braley says. He says he is waiting to see what happens with the leadership of the house and senate and the White House, and he says once they decide on a choice, he will “very seriously weigh the benefits and the potential drawbacks of that legislation for my constituents and vote accordingly.”
Braley made his comments during his weekly conference call with reporters.