NEW YORK (WPIX)—Over the course of my career, I have asked many tough questions that have made politicians quiver.
But this week I asked what is probably the most basic and easiest question ever. I simply wanted to know if members of Congress from our area actually read the entire health care bill that was approved on Sunday. After all, it is 2, 407 pages and filled with lots of legalize and therefore and wherefores. Not exactly leisurely bedtime reading. Given the magnitude of such historic legislation,it seemed a valid question to query those who voted on it whether or not they read it.
I reached out to some two dozen members of Congress from the tri-state area and as of this writing, I've actually made contact with about 17. The rest have either promised to get back to me or have just ignored my voice mail and e-mail messages. Of those who did respond, seven said they did read the bill...in it's entirety...over a period of time, three admitted candidly that they hadn't read the whole bill, but had a full understanding of it, and five said they read it with their staff and evaluated reviews of the total legislation. And one respondent chose not to respond. A staff member at Connecticut Cong. Jim Hime's office chose to tell us "We don't participate in surveys."
The latest to respond to our question include, Congressman Eliot Engel's communication director who said "The Congressman and his staff reviewed the entire bill. They skipped the boilerplate issues which he was familiar with from the Senate bill passed in December. Congressman Steve Israel's spokesperson insisted he in fact he and his staff read the entire bill." But she said he focused on key portions that impacted New York and he studied research and summaries provided by his staff. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy read parts and her staff read parts. according to her Chief of Staff Mike Spira. We got an unequivocal "yes" from Nita Lowy's PR guru Matt Dennis. "We read the bill, but focused on the reconciliation bill", which was only about 150 pages.
Connecticut Congressman Chris Murphjy read it and could answer tough questions about any part of the bill, declared his Deputy Chief of Staff Kristen Bossi. New Jersey Congressman Steve Rothman read it with his staff we were told.
I called back the offices of the two Congressmen whose staff told us they had indeed read the entire bill, but we couldn't report that because their answers were off the record. We hoped for a change of heart, but this time they chose not to call back.
We'd still like to know who read what of the voluminous health care bill, and appeal to those who have not yet responded to call me. Come on Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. I've called five times already and I've asked you tougher questions. Gary Ackerman, why should it have to take four calls and still not a response from you. Others I'm still waiting to hear from:Jerrold Nadler, Jose Serrano, New Jersey's Rodney Frelinghuysen, Rosa DeLauro,Donald Payne, Bill Pascrell, Frank Biondo, and John Adler. I'm waiting for your calls. You've got my number. Just check your voice mail or your e-mail.