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Health care, worst bill passed in history?

FILE-Rep. Phil Gingrey R-Ga. during a health care news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington in 2009.

From NBC's Luke Russert
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) on the House floor said the health-care overhaul law was the "worst bill that has ever been passed in the history of Congress."

It's quite a statement considering the nation's history.

Some historians may argue that the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798 or the Sedition Act of 1918, which essentially made it a crime to criticize the U.S. government, may be worse -- as they were a clear violation of the First Amendment.

Another black eye in the nation's history, the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which allowed for slavery to exist beneath the 36-30 parallel was passed by Congress in an effort for America to continue as a half slave and half-free state.

Perhaps the worst bill passed by Congress is the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. This legislation called for all runaway slaves to be returned to their masters. The only thing needed to track and apprehend a slave was a sworn affidavit from a master. Also, the slave had no right to jury trial or right to testify on their behalf.

So as this contentious debate on an amendment to defund health-care reform goes forward in 2011, it's important to remember that our nation has come a long way since 1776 and seen its fair share of egregious legislation that has had to do with human rights.

*** UPDATE *** Rep. Shelia Jackson-Lee (D-TX) just went on the House floor and Gingrey's claim.

Jackson-Lee said (paraphrase), "Worst bill ever passed? How dare they? What about the slave laws? The fugitive slave laws? This bill gives people rights, it does not take them away."

*** UPDATE 2 *** Here's what Jackson-Lee said: "We have to respond to someone who got up and actually said this is the worst bill that's ever been passed. What about the slave laws? What about the fugitive slave laws. How dare anyone suggest this is the worst bill when we give opportunity to all Americans. This amendment should be denied."