Democrats are making steady progress on health insurance reform, and are very close to having a final bill that puts American families and small business owners – not insurance companies – in control of their own health care, makes insurance more affordable for the middle-class, and reduces the deficit through numerous measures including reining in waste, fraud and abuse. The final bill will incorporate the best ideas from legislation that has already passed the House and the Senate, as well as new ones from both Democrats and Republicans. I am confident that it will not be long before we pass health insurance reform on the House and Senate Floors and send a final reform bill to the President’s desk.
In our ongoing efforts to increase openness and transparency, this week House Democrats announced that we will no longer approve earmark requests from for-profit companies. This important step builds on the Democratic majority’s significant reforms that have cut the number of earmarks in half and brought unprecedented transparency to the process. Earmarks exploded when the Republican Party took control of the House of Representatives in 1994 and Republicans had years to reform the earmark process and did not. I am pleased that the Committee took this critical step to ensure that Americans can have more confidence that public money is going to the projects that are most deserving, not those that are best-connected.
Next week, the House will consider two bills that continue our efforts to make government more open and transparent. One requires Members to return unused funds from their budget at the end of each fiscal year to help reduce the deficit; the other bill would make legislation more user-friendly by having bills written in plain language. In addition, we will continue our work on our top priorities of job creation and health insurance reform, and will take action as appropriate.