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Congress: Sparring over health care

On "Meet the Press" yesterday, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said that health care's passage -- without Republican support -- will make it difficult for Democrats to win over members of the GOP for future immigration and climate change legislation, NBC's Andrew Rafferty notes. "Tough sledding lies ahead because of that, the acrimony around health care," Graham said. In his appearance, the Republican senator also railed against President Obama -- not only on health care -- but also for governing "from the left ditch in a right of center nation." Still, Graham did leave the door open for some future bipartisanship. "On financial regulations we'll get a bill. I hope it's a good bill, not some liberal bill with a few -- few Republicans," he said.

Meanwhile, "Sen. Chuck Schumer said the health care reform bill will grow on voters -- but a GOP detractor countered Sunday it will hold no appeal come November," the New York Daily News writes. " 'I would predict to you ...that as people learn about what's actually in the bill, six months from now, by election time, this is going to be a plus,' Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' But Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the back-room finagling 'was sleazy.'"

"Democrats may want to pivot from their bruising, yet ultimately victorious, health care debate to the economy and jobs, but they also are faced with the arduous task of making sure their constituents understand exactly what it is they already did," Roll Call writes, adding, "Congressional leaders have told Members to highlight provisions that take effect this year, such as tax credits for small businesses that offer health insurance, prohibitions on denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions and the start of the effort to close the Medicare prescription drug "doughnut hole," among other things."

The New York Times covers how the debate is playing in members' congressional districts. "Around the country this weekend, members of Congress found a bewildering crosscurrent of political forces awaiting them, on-the-ground evidence of how the issue has divided the country by party, race and region… The receptions members of Congress received were a contrast to the seething anger visible immediately after the bill passed. Voters were more concerned and engaged than enraged."

Yes, mandates were once a GOP idea: "Republicans were for President Barack Obama's requirement that Americans get health insurance before they were against it," AP writes. "The obligation in the new health care law is a Republican idea that's been around at least two decades. It was once trumpeted as an alternative to Bill and Hillary Clinton's failed health care overhaul in the 1990s. These days, Republicans call it government overreach."

"Just days after President Obama signed the new health care law, insurance companies are already arguing that, at least for now, they do not have to provide one of the benefits that the president calls a centerpiece of the law: coverage for certain children with pre-existing conditions," the New York Times says.

The Hill takes a look back at the health care debate and the over-the-top rhetoric. Its headline: "Villains, liars and conspiracy theories marked the 2009-10 healthcare debate." 
 
"Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Friday that lawmakers should consider attaching the climate change bill she co-sponsored with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to separate energy legislation on the Senate floor," The Hill reports. "Such a move would bypass the broad energy and climate plan that Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) plan to unveil next month."