The mass revolt by 39 Democratic congressmen who supported a Republican proposal Friday to let Americans keep their health insurance policies for another year was a "repudiation" of President Barack Obama's pledge to fix Obamacare, conservative activist Grover Norquist told Newsmax.
"He said he was going to take care of it, and they said, 'We don't trust you,'" Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said in an exclusive interview. "Wow!
"These are the Democrats saying: 'We're don’t trust that what you said you were going to do to fix this actually fixes it. We want to be on the record asking for a law,'" he added. "This puts a lot of pressure on Democrats in the Senate."
Norquist was among several observers who spoke to Newsmax about the 261-157 vote in the House of Representatives
to allow insurance companies to sell for another year health policies that don’t meet the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Thirty-nine Democrats backed the proposal, sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. The House vote came a day after Obama said that he would grant by executive order a one-year reprieve for Americans whose health policies have been canceled.
Obama’s announcement sought to limit what could have been more Democratic votes for the Republican bill. The White House said that Obama would veto the House legislation.
Meanwhile, the Senate is preparing its own bill, sponsored by Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. She is among five Democrats in red states whose seats are being targeted in next year's congressional elections by the GOP.
"There are more Democrats in the Senate who are vulnerable than in the House," Norquist told Newsmax. "We're going to see various Democrats in the Senate vote in a very difficult position.
"There's going to be votes in the next 12 months, again and again, putting Democratic senators on record with Obama and Obamacare against the American people. This is not a comfortable place to be."
Among the House Democrats supporting the Upton proposal were Rep. Jim Matheson, whose Utah district is the most Republican-leaning of any held by a House Democrat, and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, who was re-elected in 2010 by 654 votes in a district that had been redrawn to favor Republicans.
Both are expected to face strong GOP challengers next year.
"They are feeling the heat back home because people are losing their insurance," GOP Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, who co-sponsored the Upton bill, told Newsmax in an interview.
"They're losing their plans. They're losing their doctors," he said. "They’re losing their hospitals. They don't know what the new network will look like, if they can get another plan — and that's pretty important."
In addition, four Republicans voted against the legislation, including Rep. Paul Broun, a Georgia physician who has long opposed Obamacare. He said the focus should be on repealing the healthcare law altogether.
"We need to focus on real reform that will actually lower costs and deliver quality care, not waste time with another delay or ‘fix,’" he said.
The others were Reps. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, Ralph Hall of Texas, and Thomas Massie of Kentucky.
Still, Norquist praised the GOP vote to Newsmax as "very, very strong."
"It showed a united Republican Party trying to reduce the damage of Obamcare. People said, 'This is so important, we've got to fix this for the American people and stop the damage that the president is doing.'
"It is very difficult for the Democrats to get from under the situation now," he said.
Norquist, however, is not troubled by Obama vows to reject the House legislation.
"It doesn't hurt to have the president remind people that he doesn't care that he lied to them —and that what he wanted was this government control of healthcare.
"He lied to get it. He told people something that wasn't true," Norquist continued. "Presidents that treat the American people that way have to realize that, while they're not on the ballot in 2014, their allies are, in the Senate and the House.
"It was a very real vote. The president misled people and said that his law would not throw you out of your healthcare plan," he added. "The insurance companies have known for years that it wasn't true. Everybody at [the Department of Health and Human Services] knew it wasn't true.
"They allowed the lie to be told — and, at some point, the Democratic senators and congressmen knew it wasn't true, and they told the lie and allowed it to be told.
"This is a very important vote as to whether or not you're willing to fight that lie," Norquist told Newsmax. "Remember, some problems don't get fixed until after the next election — but if you don't ask, you can't fix anything."
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