HEALTH & CAMPAIGNING: Posturing Reigns Over Compromise
As part of the legislative process, lawmakers compromise to pass bills, but during this election year, "just the opposite is happening on health care," CongressDaily reporter Julie Rovner writes. For example, a bill backed by President Clinton to provide low-income women with breast and cervical cancer coverage through Medicare will likely become law, "if only to help defeat the first lady in her [New York] Senate bid," Rovner explains. Introduced in the House last year by Democrat Hillary Clinton's newly anointed opponent, Rep. Rick Lazio(R-N.Y.), the measure met staunch opposition from GOP leaders. However, during the past few months, the same lawmakers who tore the bill apart suddenly became its biggest supporters. And when Republicans held a news conference on Mother's Day as the bill reached the House floor, they declined to invite Democrats who had initially garnered support for the proposal. Rovner adds that since Lazio dove into the New York Senate race, the Senate "appears to be taking more notice" of the bill. "I guess we'll probably pass it now," one GOP Senate aide said after Lazio announced his candidacy.
No to Tobacco Bill
No such luck for a bill that would empower the FDA to regulate tobacco products, however. According to Rovner, "partisan bickering" will likely stifle a measure, sponsored by Sens. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), that has met criticism from antismoking groups who backed similar legislation in 1998. Matt Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the bill "significantly weakened their 1998 legislation, allowing Senate Republicans and the tobacco industry in this election year to support a bill that sounds good but does little or nothing" (5/25).