STATEMENT BY ATTORNEY GENERAL TROY KING
ON SENATE HEALTHCARE BILL’S CONSTITUTIONALITY:
Not very long ago, legislation had to pass or fail based on its merits.
If it was poor public policy, the votes to secure its passage could not be found and it died.
On the other hand, good legislation could win passage on its merits alone.
Those days seem to have passed.
On December 19, it was announced that the health care reform legislation making its way through the United States Congress had picked up a key sixtieth vote that cleared the way for it to go to a vote of the Senate – the vote of Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson.
Then the details of how that vote was procured began to become public.
Senator Nelson did not have an epiphany.
Instead, his vote was brazenly and openly bought in a back room deal.
In response, on Tuesday, December 22, eight of my fellow attorneys general and I participated in a conference call to discuss these developments.
We agreed that, if the highest ranking members of the United States Senate were unwilling to respect their oaths to protect
and defend the Constitution as they considered one of the most important public policy issues in generations, we would.
On Christmas Eve, December 24, Senator Nelson delivered an unwanted Christmas present to America when he gave his vote to its purchaser – United States Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid – and the dirty deal was done.
Senator Nelson’s price was high – a reported one hundred million dollars in new Medicaid expense exemptions for Nebraska – forever.
This high price was acceptable and agreed to by Senator Reid and the Democratic Leadership because they had no problem forcing the taxpayers of Alabama and 48 other states to pick up
the tab for their vote buying.
Alabamians should not be forced to subsidize another state’s Medicaid program, particularly when our own Medicaid program is on financial life-support.
Alabama’s Medicaid recipients – our poor, our elderly, our children, our disabled – should not be forced to sacrifice
their Medicaid services in order for another state to keep theirs.
It is ironic that, by doing so, resources available to provide health care to Alabamians could have to be reduced.
If that happened, Alabamians could lose existing health care benefits in the rush to provide universal health care to others.
My fellow attorneys general and I are committed to protecting our poorest and neediest citizens from their own government.
On Thursday, December 24, Governor Riley voiced his support of my position and asked that I expand my investigation of this matter to include other possible improper deal-making
connected with the passage of the Senate health care bill.
I have assured him that those issues were already under review and were being thoroughly scrutinized by my Office and the other
Attorneys General’s Offices.
On Tuesday, December 29, one week after the first conference call, our Attorneys General group reconvened in another conference call.
After a week of researching and reviewing this issue we were all in agreement that the Senate’s action likely violated some of
the United States Constitution’s most important protections. In our view, any such provisions must either be removed or challenged.
Yesterday, December 30, a letter signed by 13 Attorneys General was sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, voicing our concerns.
We did not do this because we are for or against the health care plan currently under review.
We did it because we are unequivocally FOR the United States Constitution and believe it must be respected at all times and defended when necessary.
Now is such a time.