Last night, the House Republicans tried, and failed, to squelch a speech that I gave on health care. I intend to vote for the health care bill because that bill saves lives. And I also intend to speak out, as loudly as I can, on behalf of those Americans who cannot speak out, those who have died because they had no health insurance. And the Republicans tried, and failed, to shut me down, to shut down the truth.
Here's what happened.
I had reserved an hour on the Floor of the House for a "special order." When the hour began, I noted that a Harvard study had concluded that 44,789 Americans die each year because they have no health insurance. I also noted that the Urban Institute had released figures on the number of uninsured in each Congressional district. Observing that every single House Republican had pledged to block health coverage for the insured, I then did the math:
"Alabama District 1, Congressman Jo Bonner, 114 dead."
"Alabama District 3, Congressman Mike Rogers, 88 dead."
I continued for 23 minutes, from Alabama to Ohio. Then the Republicans demanded that I "yield," so they could object and interrupt me. I said no: "My time is limited, and I intend to use it." Flustered, the Republicans then asked my "words be taken down," and threatened to call a roll-call vote, at 8 p.m., on whether I should be sanctioned. This halted the proceedings, as you can see here.
The House staff informed the Republicans that I had violated no rule of the House. The Republicans then insisted on reviewing a recording of my speech, going through it with a fine-tooth comb to see if there was anything objectionable. They found nothing. Then they asked to "ring the bells" before the proceedings resumed, wasting another 15 minutes. Finally, after an hour of Republican stalling, I finished the list:
"Wyoming, Congressman Cynthia Lummis, 73 dead."
For the remainder of this hour, I then read real-life stories from the website namesofthedead.com. These are submitted by people who lost loved ones because they had no health insurance.
They used to call President Harry Truman 'Give 'em Hell Harry'. But President Truman said, "I don't give them hell; I just tell the truth and they think it's hell." I'm telling the Republicans this: Lives are at stake. If you can't stand the heat on health care, then get out of the kitchen.
Follow Rep. Alan Grayson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/alangrayson