Health-Care Reform Passes, No Thanks to Your South Florida Politicos

If you're half as cool as the staff here at Riptide, you were flipping between March Madness and C-SPAN last night like your life depended on it. Which to choose?

On CBS, Korie Lucious was pouring in a three at the buzzer and killing every Terp fan in the country, and then on C-SPAN, protesters against the health reform bill were hurling racial epithets at John Lewis while Nancy Pelosi desperately tried to corral enough votes to bring on another Glenn Beck weep fest.

We're a bit ashamed to admit we missed the final vote in the House -- come on, Mizzou was still hanging with West Virginia at that point -- but after what felt like years of bloviating, the sweeping reform finally passed 219-212.

President Obama, who has hung his first term on the landmark bill, called it "a major reform;" Rep. James Clyburn called it "the Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century." John Boehner, the House minority leader, fumed that "the American people are angry... shame on us."

However you feel about the results, you can't thank (or blame) Miami's politicos for passing the bill. As you can see on this nifty NY Times results map, Miami area reps voted 3-2 against the reform.

The vote, in our neck of the woods, went right down party lines. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart voted against health-care reform, while Kendrick Meek and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz were pro.

If you expand your microscope a bit, two other semilocal Dems -- Alcee Hastings and Ron Klein -- also helped pass the bill.

Of the naysayers, only Mario Diaz-Balart had anything to say about the bill this morning. He says he believes the reform will jeopardize Medicare and Social Security, that Democrats abused House rules to pass it, and that "freedom and prosperity" will suffer as a result.

"Our children and grandchildren will be left to pay the price," he said.

Meek countered, after the successful vote, that the bill will expand coverage and lower premiums for most Americans. "No landmark legislation is perfect," Meek said. "[But] public service is about making tough decisions now, not kicking the can down the road for future generations."

As for health-care reform, all that's left now is for the Senate to approve a package of changes the House made to its bill, which should happen this week.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink