Minn. congressional delegation split on health careby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Minnesota's U.S. House members were evenly divided on the massive health care overhaul bill that passed Sunday night.
Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson joined Republican Reps. John Kline, Michele Bachmann and Erik Paulsen to vote against the bill, while Democratic Reps. Tim Walz, Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and Jim Oberstar voted in favor.
The bill received 34 "no" votes from Democrats, some of whom were concerned about language related to federal funds for elective abortions. Others, including Peterson, had expressed concerns about the bill's cost.
Walz, who represents southern Minnesota, said it wasn't a difficult decision for him to vote in favor of the bill.
"The one thing that's certain about cost, is that maintaining the status quo will break the system," Walz told MPR's Morning Edition on Monday. "We're already paying twice as much as any other nation and getting less for it."
McCollum, who represents St. Paul and surrounding suburbs, said she views House passage on the health care bill "a great moment" in history.
"This is wonderful for all of Minnesota," McCollum said Monday. "We're going to see 409,000 more residents of just the 4th Congressional District see improvement on their health care coverage."
McCollum said she's confident the Senate will move forward and pass a bill of small fixes that would be needed.
But Kline said the debate is far from over.
"I think everybody should understand that there is still more debate and more votes to be taken," Kline said Monday, adding that Republicans in the Senate are expected to question the so-called "fix-it" bill.
If the Senate changes that bill at all, it would have to come back to the House for another vote.
"We could be at this for some time," Kline said.
Several other members of Minnesota's congressional delegation issued written statements after the bill passed.
(MPR reporter Elizabeth Dunbar contributed to this report.)