Congressman Phil Roe greets new House GOP Whip-elect Steve Scalise at a meeting of local Realtors Wednesday at Eastman Road Food City. Photo by David Grace
KINGSPORT — U.S. House Majority Whip-elect Steve Scalise promised Wednesday to push for a House vote on a Republican alternative to Obamacare, President Barack Obama's health-care law that took effect this year.
That GOP alternative legislation was filed last year by U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and advocates creating health savings accounts, buying insurance across state lines and repealing Obamacare.
The GOP-controlled House has voted numerous times to repeal Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, only to see that effort die in the Democrat majority Senate.
Scalise (R-La.) joined Roe during a visit to Eastman Chemical Company's Kingsport headquarters and talked to about 85 Realtors, lenders and insurers during a Food City breakfast hosted by Town and County Realty.
Scalise has served as chairman of a House Republican Study Committee drafting the Obamacare alternative that now has 130 co-sponsors.
"Ultimately (Roe's bill) would be that center of debate showing what we're for compared to what this law is doing that the people don't like," Scalise, who will take the House Majority Whip's duties at the end of July, said. "This would address real problems and not discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. ... Costs were too high before Obamacare. They are even higher now. (Health care) access was a challenge then and is even higher now. ... The law now says you have to buy health care approved by the federal government."
As the number three man among House Republicans, Scalise will be tasked with keeping party members in line with conservative policy.
Both Roe and Scalise pointed out spending issues and passing a federal budget for the coming fiscal year will consume Congress in the coming weeks.
Scalise moved up in the House GOP pecking order following the recent GOP Primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)
Concerning Cantor's loss, Scalise said: "It means all politics is local. It reminds all of us that we're not taking our own districts for granted. I know Phil (Roe) always comes back home and works hard in his district. ... It's something we ought to remember. We also should remember the voters' frustration in general. They don't like the direction of our country. I don't like the direction of our country, either. We're fighting to try to get it back on track. You have a president who has a different view of this nation, and more and more Americans are turning away from this view. People in November will throw out his agenda, and that bodes well for us in the House and taking over the Senate."
Scalise also said Obama's ongoing attempts to bypass Congress and use his executive powers are unconstitutional.
"President Obama is clearly overreaching his authority and trying to act outside of the constitutional guidelines," Scalise insisted.
As a representative of a southeast Louisiana congressional district, Scalise also shared his knowledge of the National Flood Insurance Program during the Food City breakfast.
Scalise noted Obama signed bipartisan legislation earlier this year limiting flood insurance premium increases.
"We've seen more than our fair share of hurricanes, storm damage and flooding (in Louisiana)," he said at the breakfast. "It's not just a problem for an isolated number of states. ... This (flood insurance) program has been in place since the 1970s and doesn't work real well. It sometimes adds to the deficit and sometimes runs a surplus. ... We're working to create a marketplace for the private sector."
For about Roe's health care bill go to www.roe.house.gov. His bill is HR 3121.