JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri House voted Tuesday for a resolution against the proposed health care bills being debated in the Congress.
The resolution, which is only an expression of opinion and does not become Missouri law, passed about the same time the Republican candidate won the open Massachusetts Senate seat, removing the Democrats' ability to override Republican filibusters.
Rep. John Diehl, R-St. Louis County, said other states in the U.S. have been receiving tax exemptions throughout congressional debate. States including Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut would have better tax exceptions than Missouri under the proposed health care reform, Diehl said.
Diehl and other Republican representatives in the Missouri House said health care reform in Washington has been done behind closed doors.
"I don't believe those debates were done in a transparent process," Diehl said.
Many representatives brought up the "Nebraska kickback," specifically listed in the resolution as one of the grievances Missouri lawmakers have against the Senate's version of the federal health care bill. Nebraska's Sen. Ben Nelson provided the necessary 60th vote to pass the bill in the Senate after receiving an exemption for the Medicare tax in Nebraska. Since the controversy, Nelson has asked for the deal to be repealed from the legislation.
Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt, R-Jackson County, said the burden of paying more than other states is unfair and the exemptions would economically destroy Missouri.
"The plan will bankrupt Missouri," Pratt said. "If you vote for this bill, what do you want to cut?"
Because the resolution only sends a message to Congress and does not become law, Rep. Jason Holsman, D-Jackson County, said debating the resolution was a waste of time.
"Our citizens did not vote for us to come here to debate things that are out of our control," Holsman said.
The debate in the House reflected the arguments used in Washington with Republicans against Democrats for the health care reform bill.
Rep. Timothy Jones, R-St. Louis County, said he thought the current health care system did not need alteration.
"While imperfect, it still provides more health care than any other system on this planet," Jones said.
Rep. Margo McNeil, D-St. Louis County, emphasized those with pre-existing conditions who are not covered by most insurance companies.
"Voting for this resolution would be against the people," she said.
The resolution now goes to the Senate for a vote.