Even though Diana DeGette has big problems with an amendment to the mammoth healthcare bill limiting access to abortions, she voted for the measure. Not so Betsy Markey, the only Democratic representative from Colorado to turn her thumb down -- and it doesn't seem to have been a last-minute decision. After all, her statement explaining her reasoning, on view below, is dated November 6 -- a day before the final vote.
As for fallout from this decision, Markey spokesman Ben Marter offers mighty few details, reacting to even the most benign questions like a hostile witness in a criminal trial.
On Monday morning before office hours, the general mailbox at Markey's D.C. office was so full that it wouldn't allow messages to be left, and the same was true for multiple slots in the voicemail system at her Fort Collins branch. Does that mean constituents and interested parties flooded the lines to either express pleasure or dismay at her decision? Marter initially avoids answering that inquiry head on, saying, "In the run-up to the vote, we've had a tremendous outpouring of people reaching out to our office, which has been great to see. A lot of people shared personal stories, questions, thoughts and concerns about this bill."
"The majority of people are calling to thank the congresswoman," he maintained.
Were most of these calls from people in her district? Or from individuals from elsewhere prompted by interest groups and the like?
"From her district."
How do you know?
"We ask them."
What do they say?
"People share a lot of the same concerns that the congresswoman has with the bill."
News reports have pointed out that Markey is facing a tough reelection campaign in a district that's traditionally leaned Republican. Was that a factor in her vote?
So she was less concerned with her reelection chances than she was with the specifics of the bill?
"It was completely about the specifics of the bill. That's what she was voting on."
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After that, Marter abruptly ended the call -- and a conversation he clearly didn't enjoy very much.
Here's Markey's statement about her vote:
November 6, 2009
MARKEY STATEMENT ON HOUSE HEALTH CARE BILL
WASHINGTON--Following the vote on H.R. 3962 in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congresswoman Betsy Markey released the following statement:
"After carefully reviewing this legislation and hearing from thousands of Coloradans across my district, I could not support this bill. This was not an easy decision to make, because I know only too well that America's health care system is in dire need of reform.
This bill provides new coverage for millions of Americans, but it simply does not do enough to cut the health care costs that are crushing our businesses and families. It's critical that we control rising health care costs, increase quality and value within our health care system, and improve access to health care and affordable health insurance coverage.
This was not a vote on the idea of health care reform, it was a vote on one specific bill. I remain optimistic that with the House and Senate working together with the Administration, we can achieve a bill that meets the goals of affordability and coverage, improved access, and is also fiscally sustainable in the long-term."