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February 14, 2016

Conservatives Still Fuming Over Secret ‘Doc Fix’ Voice Vote (Video) (Updated)

Updated 5:14 p.m. | Conservative House members confronted Speaker John A. Boehner at a private Wednesday morning meeting, fuming that last week’s secret deal to pass the “doc fix” violated the trust between leaders and their rank and file.

Then, at a private meeting of the conservative Republican Study Committee later in the afternoon, members challenged Majority Leader Eric Cantor, asking the Virginia Republican to explain why leaders pushed the bill through without allowing members to cast their votes.

It remains unclear whether there will be any lasting implications to the tactic, but members are still angry and say leaders have yet to satisfy their complaints.

“What I didn’t hear was, ‘I promise this’ll never happen again.’ I think that’s something that has to happen,” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said. “It isn’t that anyone broke their word at this point, but they need to give their word.”

At a weekly morning meeting of the House Republican Conference, Boehner told the room that he wanted to have a “family discussion” about the way the vote happened. Members of both parties told the press last week that they were angry leadership passed the “doc fix” by voice vote when it was clear there were not enough votes to pass it on a roll call.

Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Louie Gohmert of Texas were the most outspoken critics of leadership’s tactic at the meeting, according to sources in the room.

“There was some ventilation about it. Some members are very unhappy, claiming that it’s anti-democracy,” Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said.

Massie said he was on the floor during the vote and would have objected. But the call for a voice vote happened in just more than 40 seconds, and he was caught off guard.

“I was there on the floor of the House and I did observe it, but I didn’t believe that was happening,” he said in an interview. “I couldn’t grasp, I couldn’t bring myself to believe two things: One, that more than 400 members would be misled into thinking there’s no vote and then for the vote to occur. The other thing I was trying to resolve is that there were clearly Democrats on the floor and they were publicly opposed to the [sustainable growth rate] … also that the Democrats were in on this.

“As I was trying to resolve all this, the gavel went down, the vote was done,” he said.

Massie added that GOP staff was on the floor and celebrated as the vote was called.

“The staff were giddy, almost like they shot off a firework and ran and got away with it,” he said. “It made me feel sick.”

Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina also made his objections heard, although he said he toned down his rhetoric from last week, saying instead that parts of the 12-month Medicare sustainable growth rate patch are not offset for a decade, which he thinks will never happen.

“I called it bullshit last week. I did not call it bullshit today,” he said. “I tried to focus today on the practical impacts of it. Put the internal politics aside, put the maneuvering aside, and say, ‘OK, we just spent $6 billion that we don’t have, how are we going to pay for it?'”

In response, Boehner told the crowd that leaders had met with some of the biggest opponents of the bill — the Republican Doctors Caucus — and cleared the tactic with them first, according to sources in the room. He also said that he would have pushed forth on a permanent fix, but the price tag was too high.

He added that it was difficult enough to find the deficit reduction over 10 years in the bipartisan budget deal negotiated by House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. Finding the nearly $140 billion needed to offset the permanent “doc fix,” he said, proved impossible.

In the RSC meeting, Cantor also responded to the members’ objections telling the room that the alternative — allowing the policy to lapse and doctors’ pay to be cut by 24 percent — would have been worse.

“All of the options were bad, and it was the least bad option,” Fleming said, characterizing Cantor’s remarks.

That explanation is satisfying some in the conference. Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., a member of the Doctors Caucus, was livid last week about leadership’s decision to bring the bill to the floor. But she said this week that she does not think there will be lasting implications.

“I do believe that leadership was just as frustrated as members were on this issue,” she said. “It was just a bad situation. I just hope that moving forward we can do a better job.”

In fact, sources noted that Cantor received a round of applause for addressing the conference’s concerns at the weekly RSC meeting, which he regularly attends.

Others, such as King and Massie, however, said leadership has some work to do yet.

“I think that we need to now go to work to restore the trust,” King said.

“I’m getting used to being deceived by the Obama administration, but when my own leaders do it, it’s not acceptable,” Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., said. “It was a closed door meeting, so I probably shouldn’t share it, but it wasn’t pleasant.”

Correction: 4:42 p.m.

An earlier version of this story misstated which Republican leaders had met with the Republican Doctors Caucus and cleared the voice vote plan with them.

  • Brenda Huddleston

    Why is it so bad when the republicans do it, but just fine when the democrats just stand up and tell us lies about everything…..if you like your dr., you can keep your dr….period!

    • Jack Everett

      Just another troll working the republican street corners for welfare. If you like your corporate death panel you can keep your corporate death panel.

      • Brenda Huddleston

        I’m not sure what you mean by that comment. Can you explain further?

        • Half-Evil D

          Just look up 2009’s Politico Lie of the Year, an award given to America’s Reigning Dunce, and a lie still used to this day by such dimwits as Michelle “Voices iin my head” Bachmann:)

        • David Johnson

          What he means is his brain hasn’t developed enough to figure out what is going on in our government.

  • Beeker

    saying instead that parts of the 12-month Medicare sustainable growth
    rate patch are not offset for a decade, which he thinks will never

    You can thank the GOP for pushing the BBA 1997 for the “Doc fix” based on the SGR method even though it is impractical in the long run.

  • Half-Evil D

    Isn’t it amusing watching the GOP and Tea Party trying to undermine each other?

    • notyranny47

      almost as amusing as watching the Dim/Communists undermine everything about this nation.

      • DHFabian

        Sounds like you forgot your meds again.

  • Ramesees

    Obamacare is the biggest domestic policy blunder in American History. 7.1MM signups, 5.6MM kicked off their old plans: trillions of dollars wasted to give 1.5MM people insurance? You could’ve bought all 1.5MM people insurance for life, new McMansions in Maryland Suburbs and gofast Lambos for what it cost us for this trainwreck.

    C’mon November!

    • David Johnson

      7.1 Million signups is another BIG lie.
      Nowhere near that many have actually signed up.

      • DHFabian

        How do you know? What is your source of information?

    • DHFabian

      Aren’t there any grownups left? Changes –and this included Social Security itself — always require a period of adjustment and readjustment, making changes as needed. What could be more anti-American than denying basic health care to Americans? Premiums are out of the range of a large portion of our workers, and employers rarely provide insurance. The alternative to Obamacare is to turn our backs as more Americans needlessly suffer and die.

  • FishingWithFredo

    When they ask “Why are you done with the Republican Party?,” see above. The added detail of GOP staffers on the floor reacting with glee almost made me blow a gasket. Indistinguishable from Democrats. Conservatives: STOP PLAYING ALONG. Let the Democrat-RINO-Media Complex say what they will about you. Wear the black hat.

  • David Johnson

    As anyone can see here Conservatives are fighting both the democrats AND the republicans. These people now in charge on both sides are almost all criminals. The vast majority of both parties are out to deceive the public and gain as many dollars as they can before they get caught. Knowing all the while they will never go to jail or have to pay in any way for their crimes. And that goes for most local politicians too.

    • DHFabian

      Eh. The US has maintained an agenda of upward wealth redistribution since the 1980s. As a result of the policies we chose, the US was rated at #1 in overall quality of life when Reagan was first elected, and was down to #34 by the time Obama was elected.

  • Dantes

    This is why the GOP RINO beltway insider leadership must go. Dump Boehner, Cantor, and the rest of the cabal.

    • orlandocajun

      It’s also why the keep losing to Democrats. They forget that conservatives vote and that most GOP voters are conservatives…not RINOs.

      • DHFabian

        “The devil’s in the details.” The Clinton Dems, many of whom remain in Congress, have continued to ensure the success of the rt. wing agenda, turning their backs on ordinary people to enrich the richest few. They have repeatedly voted to block Obama’s most positive proposals. With the latest budget, 89 of our “bold progressives” in Congress voted to cut food aid to the elderly, disabled and working poor. Again.

    • Apu Bugolligosh


  • Elle’s Island

    More dangerous than merit-based rewards is the notion of “distributive justice” that requires each of us be subjected to centralized control

    • DHFabian

      Ah yes, Wonder Woman. Firmly rooted in reality. Either you’re for your fellow citizens, or you aren’t. Think about it: The US reached its height of wealth AND productivity from FDR to Reagan, precisely as a result of our socioeconomic agenda. With Reagan, we reversed course. The US plunged from being rated at #1 in overall quality of life (when Reagan was first elected), down to #34 (by the time Obama was elected). That’s a pretty good clue that the right wing agenda has been wiping out the US.

  • notyranny47

    If you’re interested in the real agenda of your “prez”, read Rules for Radicals. He’s followed it to the letter, and America is being destroyed. But I doubt you’ll see the truth until it bites you in the butt, which it most definitely will. Problem is, it’ll be too late to do anything about it. Hope you enjoy your life under Communism/Marxism!

    • DHFabian

      That defies reality. The US remained under right wing rule from Reagan until Obama, and it nearly caused the complete collapse of the US. This generation looked at the policies that took us to the height of wealth and productivity, from FDR until Reagan, and reversed course. What did anyone think the consequences would be? At the least, a nation requires an educated population to compete in the modern world market, and the right wing has been anti-education, ridiculing the educated. (An ignorant population, by contrast, is easy to manipulate and control.) Right wingers have been appallingly anti-American every step of the way, and it has taken a heavy toll on this country.

  • Bob Stauskas

    Marxism failed, in part, because it deprived natural human aggression of an outlet toward the internal channel of private property.

    • DHFabian

      Yes, and anti-American aggression defines this generation. That’s tragic. Following WWll, Americans had some concept of “we’re all in this together,” and tremendous progress was made. We believed in working together, lifting each other up. Since Reagan, we’ve embraced the “I’ve got mine, so to hell with you” culture, and it shows in the significant deterioration of the US. We are no longer the leading world power in any sense of the word, and have fallen well behind all the modern nations in virtually every respect.

      • shaggy383

        If you are so determined to back this president then tell me other than the health care, which only gives people the right to have to rely on others to pay their way in life, what has he done for the country? We are even worst in debt, he wants to continue to help other countries before helping his own, and I would also go as far to has a roll of toilet paper with the US constitution on it and wipes his butt daily with it.

  • DHFabian

    “Family discussion”? Like the Manson family, or any other toxic cult?

  • shaggy383

    All I have to say is that if your not willing to work for the money you deserve then maybe you don’t deserve money! Survival of the fittest will come soon and if you don’t want to stand up and speak up for yourself then you shouldn’t rely on others to do it for you. Until we get a leadership that cares about the American dream and the constitution then the anti-American feelings won’t go away! Life is hard but its my life and I should get to live it the way I should and the only way I know I can do that is through hard work and determination! It is time for America to grow up and put back on its big boy pants and do what it should to fix our own problems and not have the government do it for us because trust me that would be a life to regret!

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