Kucinich Airs His Disagreement with Markos Moulitsas on Health Care Bill
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JUAN GONZALEZ: We begin our show in Washington with Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who has been at the center of two important debates in the House this week.
On healthcare, the Ohio Democrat is threatening to vote against his party’s healthcare reform package because it does not contain a robust public option. With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scrambling to get enough votes, the fate of the healthcare reform bill could come down to a single vote.
Dennis Kucinich’s bill to force the withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan was taken up on Wednesday. After a rare three-and-a-half-hour debate on the war, the majority of House Democrats joined with Republicans to defeat the measure. The vote was 356 to 65. Kucinich said he introduced the bill because he wants Congress to take responsibility for the war.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: This debate today, Mr. Speaker, we will have a chance, for the first time, to reflect on our responsibility for troop casualties that are now reaching a thousand, to look at our responsibilities for the costs of the war, which approaches $250 billion; our responsibility for the civilian casualties and the human costs of the war; our responsibility for challenging the corruption that takes place in Afghanistan; our responsibility for having a real understanding of the role of the pipeline in this war; our responsibility for debating the role of counterinsurgency strategies, as opposed to counterterrorism; our responsibility for being able to make a case for the logistics of withdrawal. After eight-and-a-half years, it is time that we have this debate.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Dennis Kucinich speaking on Wednesday. During the debate on Afghanistan, Rhode Island Democrat Patrick Kennedy condemned the media for failing to cover the issue.
REP. PATRICK KENNEDY: Finally, if anybody wants to know where cynicism is, cynicism is that there’s one—two press people in this gallery! We’re talking about Eric Massa 24/7 on the TV. We’re talking about war and peace, $3 billion, a thousand lives! And no press? No press? You want to know why the American public is fit? They’re fit because they’re not seeing their Congress do the work that they’re sent to do. It’s because the press, the press of the United States, is not covering the most significant issue of national importance, and that’s the laying of lives down in the nation for the service of our country. It is despicable, the national press corps right now!
AMY GOODMAN: Rhode Island Congress member Patrick Kennedy, the son of former senator, or the late senator, Ted Kennedy.
Well, Congress member Dennis Kucinich joins us now in Washington, DC.
We welcome you to Democracy Now!
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Good morning.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about trying to invoke the War Powers Act, Congressman Kucinich.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Congress has a clear constitutional responsibility, under Article I, Section 8, but the War Powers Act is a vehicle by which we can exercise our constitutional responsibility to be able to enter into the decision-making process as to whether we keep troops at war. I felt, after a eight-and-a-half years, we had waited long enough to have the debate, and so I used the War Powers Act to create the debate.
I’m glad there was a debate. Now Congress has taken responsibility. The debate didn’t turn out the way I would have liked it to, but at least we brought it into the public’s awareness that Congress has now entered into essentially affirming the Obama administration’s policy on Afghanistan.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Were you surprised by how few Democrats, of your fellow Democrats, joined you in the vote, and in terms of compared to how many Democrats, for instance, question what was going on in the war with Iraq?