Proponents of Reform Fear for Their Lives

In the United States, the dispute over health care reform is escalating: 10 representatives who voted for the reform already need police protection following murder threats. “You’re dead. We will get you,” was the message to a politician.

With subtle tactical maneuvers, Republicans are still trying to put a spoke in President Barack Obama’s wheel. Thursday night they succeeded in making it so that a package of amendments to the reform bill, which had already been signed by Obama, will have to be voted on once more by the House of Representatives after the expected approval of the Senate. Democrats see this as a nuisance but are sure that the amendments will be passed by both chambers of Congress this weekend.

Meanwhile, the fierce quarrel about the reform found expression in violence. The office windows of four members of Congress have been smashed and another representative found a coffin on his lawn, according to media reports. At least 10 Democrats in the House of Representatives received death threats and have asked for police protection for themselves and their families. In another case, the address of a parliamentarian was put online along with an appeal to the public to protest in front of his house.

Democrats Hold Republicans Jointly Responsible

The Democratic leaders are concerned about these excesses, while the Republican chairman in the House of Representatives, John Boehner, distanced himself from the actions of radical opponents of the reform. Several Democrats, however, hold the Republicans jointly liable for the heated atmosphere.

Last Sunday, the House of Representatives passed a senatorial bill, which provides health care insurance for 32 million Americans that have been uninsured, with a bare Democratic majority. All Republicans voted against this bill. Obama enacted the law on Tuesday, but there are still amendments to make on a few points.

The House of Representatives voted for the modifications right after the approval of the senatorial bill; however, the Senate will have to approve the amendments before Obama will be able to sign. The Democrats arranged the bill to be approved by a simple majority in the Senate: The amendments were connected directly to the budget. Such budgetary relevant bills can be passed with a simple majority.

This is where the Republicans sniffed a chance: They discovered two little passages of only 16 rows in the bill that are not compliant to senatorial rules. They do not have anything to do with the health care reform but concern education. These passages now have to be crossed out and the representatives have to vote again. The Republicans proposed 27 motions of amendments to delay a postponement.

Among others, Congressman Bart Stupak, an anti-abortionist, received death threats. He voted for the bill on Sunday but only after the promise that health insurance paid by the state would not pay for abortions. In his office, a message was left: “You’re dead. We know where you live. We will get you.” Stupak’s democratic colleague Louise Slaughter had received a threatening call last week, vowing that snipers would be sent off to kill the children of proponents of the bill.

“I know that many Americans are angry about the health care bill and the Washington Democrats do not listen,” Boehner said, “but […] threats and violence are unacceptable.”

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