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PRESS RELEASE FROM CCHR ST. LOUIS:
Wednesday night the Senate passed their version of the bailout bill,
and MENTAL HEALTH PARITY along with it.
At first we had thought the mental health parity provision was an amendment thrown in with the bailout, but actually it was the other way around.
The mental health parity bill (H.R. 1424) had already passed the House in March with a large majority and was sitting waiting for the Senate to act on it. It was considered a popular bill
that would easily pass on its own, so was chosen as a vehicle for the bailout. This was also a procedural move, as the Senate isn't allowed to originate bills having to do with spending, so the only way they could take action on the bailout first without waiting for the House to pass it, was by tacking it on as an amendment to another bill that had already passed the House and was waiting for Senate approval. So that's what they did.
Now it's going back to the House, for them to approve this as an amended version of something they already approved. (Already approved mental health parity by itself, so now they get to vote on the amended bill of mental health parity plus bailout.) If the House approves it,
that's it, it's through. If they vote it down, then both the bailout and mental health parity are defeated, at least until they cook up another way to push it through.
The original mental health parity bill passed Congress with a large majority. It had 274 co-sponsors (more than half of Congress). The bailout, on the other hand, was defeated by 24
votes, and if just 12 of the 'No's' change their votes to 'Yes', it will pass. There is a huge wave of public outrage against the bailout, but relatively few speaking against mental health parity.
Those Congressmen who originally voted 'No' on the bailout, but voted 'Yes' on mental health parity, may now be tempted to vote 'Yes' on the bailout in order to get mental health parity passed. In our area, this applies to Rep. William Lacy Clay (D), of the 1st Congressional
District (north St. Louis City and County, down to about Delmar). (He was also one of the co-sponsors of the mental health parity bill.) He needs to be told in very strong terms that he must hold firm against the bailout and not change his vote on it, not even to get mental health parity through.
Those Congressmen who originally voted 'No' on the bailout, and also voted 'No' on mental health parity, must be encouraged to hold firm with their 'No' votes on both of these issues. In our area, this applies to Rep. Todd Akin (R), of the 2nd Congressional District (west St. Louis County and St. Charles) and Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R), of the 9th Congressional District (western St. Charles County and further west).
Those who voted 'Yes' on both the bailout and mental health parity are probably a lost cause, but you can always give them hell on it anyway and tell them they're fired and you'll vote them out in November. In our area this applies to Rep. Russ Carnahan (D), of the 3rd Congressional District (south St. Louis City and County and Jefferson County).
If you live outside these Congressional Districts, here is where you can find out how your Congressman voted on mental health parity:
http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2008/roll101.xml and on the bailout:
Just look them up by name on these vote records.
How to contact them: A lot of people send e-mails, but this is not the most effective way. It has become so easy to organize mass e-mail campaigns, and there are so many groups doing it, they really don't pay that much attention to e-mail any more. (After all, what do you do when you get tons of automated e-mail in your in-box? *Delete* *Delete* *Delete*)
The most effective comm line is to call. That shows you really took the effort and it means a lot to you, and you can interact with them and really impinge. There are several toll-free numbers for the Capitol switchboard. Ask for your Representative by name. You will be connected to their office, and can talk to someone on his staff. (If lines are very busy or you are outside office hours, you will get to leave a message.) Let them know how you feel and how strongly you feel
about it (and what you will do to them in November if they ignore the wishes of the people on this).
The second best alternative is to fax. You can fax direct to their office from your fax machine, or even via the internet. There is also a fax service at www.faxzero.com where you can send two free faxes per day.
Here are several toll-free numbers for the Capitol switchboard:
Here are fax numbers for the offices of all Missouri Congressmen and
Senators (together with how they voted on the bailout) :
*U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FAX NUMBERS:*
District 1 - William 'Lacy' Clay, Jr. (D) NAY: 202-226-3717
District 2 - Todd Akin (R) NAY: 202-225-2563
District 3 - Russ Carnahan (D) *YES*: 202-225-7452
District 4 - Ike Skelton (D) *YES*: 202-225-2695
District 5 - Emmanuel Cleaver (D) NAY: 202-225-4403
District 6 - Sam Graves (R) NAY: 202-225-8221
District 7 - Roy Blunt (R) *YES*: 202-225-5604
District 8 - Jo Ann Emerson (R) *YES*: 202-226-0326
District 9 - Kenny Hulshof (R) NAY: 202-225-5712
* SENATOR FAX NUMBERS:*
Christopher Bond (R) *YES*: 202-224-8149
Claire McCaskill (D) *YES*: 202-228-6326
The House is expected to vote on this on Friday, so let's keep the pressure on and beat this thing!
P.S. Oh, yeah, and if you haven't registered to vote yet, the deadline is Oct 8. You can register at any public library or license bureau.