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Other News: Health Care Legislation Inches Forward

July 30, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
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In other news, health care reform legislation advanced in the House, but stalled in the Senate, and a spending bill that removed funding for F-22 fighter jets was approved.

JIM LEHRER: Health care legislation crept forward in Congress today. The House Energy and Commerce Committee worked on a bill a day after leaders struck a deal with conservative Blue Dog Democrats.

They said it would cut the cost of the bill by $100 billion. It would also move away from using Medicare as the model for a government insurance option. And it would exempt more businesses from a mandate to provide coverage.

House Minority Leader John Boehner insisted the Democrats’ bill still means taxing small business, cutting Medicare, and giving government too much control.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio, House minority leader: Clearly, they haven’t learned. The American people don’t want the government involved in delivering their health care. They want real reforms that drive down the cost for themselves and their families.

And Democrats appear ready to leave town for the August recess with a so-called deal in hand. I think it’s safe to say that, over the August recess, as more Americans learn more about their plan, they’re likely to have a very, very hot summer.

JIM LEHRER: On the Senate side, one of the six lawmakers involved in bipartisan talks raised a warning flag, but Republican Mike Enzi of Wyoming insisted the bill is “not ready for primetime.” There have been reports the group will discard a government option plan and the employer mandate.

But Majority Leader Reid emphasized again the key is to win 60 votes to overcome any filibuster.

SEN. HARRY REID, D-Nev., Senate majority leader: We have to have 60 votes. Is that fair? Well, the rule we have in America, as the United States Senate was set up by the founding fathers, that requires us to get the votes as required under the rules of the Senate, and we’re going to do that. That’s our process. And we can’t do it without Republican support. We understand that, even though the Republican leadership wants to stiff everybody and do nothing.

JIM LEHRER: We’ll have more about the health care fight and other issues in an interview with House Speaker Pelosi.

But first, here is Jeffrey Brown with the other news of the day.

JEFFREY BROWN: The U.S. House approved a defense spending bill today that kills plans for more F-22 fighter jets. The Senate had already done so. Defense Secretary Robert Gates had argued there’s no need for additional planes, and White House officials threatened a veto.

Today’s debate divided over maintaining the current fleet without building new jets.

REP. JOHN MURTHA, D-Pa.: What I’ve done is try to robustly fund the program as it is. In other words, they have 187. Let’s make sure it’s funded adequately. Let’s make sure they have what they need. There are a lot of maintenance problems with the F-22s. There’s no question about it.

REP. ROB BISHOP, R-Utah: We all know that to maintain air superiority, which we’ve had since the Korean War, requires two elements. One is the technological ability which we know the F-22 provides, but the other is the numerical superiority that we have to have. What we are doing is putting ourselves in danger 10 and 15 years out, of being on the wrong side of history.

JEFFREY BROWN: The House refused to drop several other programs, including a new fleet of presidential helicopters.

A federal judge in Washington has ordered the release of one of the youngest detainees at Guantanamo. The judge ruled Mohamed Jawad is being held illegally. He allegedly wounded two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan in 2002.

The U.S. military says he’s about 24 years old; Jawad says he’s much younger and was tortured into confessing. He could be returned to Afghanistan next month, but the justice department is considering a criminal indictment and could still bring Jawad to the U.S. to stand trial.

And in Afghanistan, the U.S. military said an American service member was killed today in a Taliban attack in the south. There were no other details. Forty-one U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan this month, the most since the war began in 2001.

The White House hosted the so-called “beer summit” this evening, hoping to put to rest a racial controversy. President Obama invited Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates and James Crowley, the policeman who arrested Gates at his home this month for disorderly conduct. The president initially said the police acted “stupidly,” but later voiced regret for those words. He had this to say this afternoon.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: These were people involved — including myself — all of whom are imperfect. And, you know, hopefully, instead of ginning up anger and hyperbole, you know, everybody can just spend a little bit of time with some self-reflection and recognizing that other people have different points of view.

JEFFREY BROWN: The president has said he believes both Gates and Crowley over-reacted during their confrontation.

On Wall Street today, stocks scored gains on stronger corporate earnings. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 83 points to close at 9,154. The Nasdaq rose 16 points to close at 1,984.

There’s new information on bonuses paid by nine big banks that received federal rescue money last year. The New York state attorney general’s office reported on the payments today.

Citigroup led the way. It paid out more than $5 billion and received more than $45 billion in government aid. Bank of America got the same amount in federal help. It paid out more than $3 billion in bonuses.

And more bad news for baseball today. The New York Times reported that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs back in 2003. A year later, they led the Boston Red Sox to the franchise’s first World Series title since 1918. Ortiz still plays for the Red Sox. Ramirez is with the Los Angeles Dodgers; he recently served a 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy.