Rep. Heath Shuler voted against the sweeping health care reform legislation that passed the House of Representatives 219-212 last night.
Shuler joined 35 other Democrats, including two from North Carolina’s delegation, in opposing the bill.
Word had circulated in online vote counts since early last Friday afternoon that Shuler would vote against health-care-reform legislation. Later that day, March 19, he made it official.
In a brief statement, Shuler said, “I recognize that there are strong views on both sides of the health-care debate, and it has spurred strong emotions throughout the nation. Tens of thousands of constituents have shared their opinions with me, and I appreciate their views. My responsibility as Congressman is to filter through the emotion, misinformation and politics surrounding this issue and do what is best for Western North Carolina and our country.”
Just over a week ago, The Hill newspaper listed Shuler as undecided. Earlier today, Organizing for America, the political group set up to rally President Barack Obama’s supporters, asked constituents to call Shuler’s office and push him to vote for the bill.
But the two-term congressman decided to oppose the bill.
“There is no question that our current health-care system is broken and that we need to make significant reforms to improve it in an equitable, fiscally responsible and sustainable manner,” he said in his announcement. “In my opinion the bill as written does not meet those criteria.”
Shuler also opposed health care legislation when it came before Congress last year, citing concerns over the cost. During his 2008 re-election campaign, Shuler received $130,852 in campaign contributions from the health-care industry, more than any other Democrat in the state’s delegation. He has repeatedly asserted that those contributions have not affected his vote.
— David Forbes, staff writer