By GRAHAM MOOMAW
Capital News Service
BEL AIR – Protest signs went up, “Don’t Tread on Me” flags waved and car horns blasted outside Rep. Frank Kratovil’s Bel Air office Tuesday evening as Maryland’s Tea Party movement rallied to ensure a no vote from Kratovil on the health care bill.
About 200 people came to send a message to Kratovil, D-Stevensville, by rallying outside his Main Street office for two hours.
Tony Passaro, an organizer with the Bel Air Tea Party Patriots, said his group wants to reform the health care system, but not if it means turning it over to more government control.
“We’re just against big government doing health care reform,” said Passaro. “We’re afraid that if you leave that much money and that much power to the federal government, they’ll lose control of it.”
Kratovil, a moderate Democrat who voted against the health care bill passed by the House in November, has said he will vote no if, as expected, the House is asked to pass the Senate version of the bill.
After almost a year of public debate, House Democratic leaders are trying to round up 216 votes to pass the Senate version of the bill by this weekend, which is the most viable way to move the legislation forward after Senate Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority with the election of Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.
Kevin Lawlor, a Kratovil spokesman in Bel Air for the protest, said the congressman’s position hasn’t changed; he will vote no on the Senate bill, but will reserve judgment on any proposed fixes that might come later.
When asked about the proposed “Slaughter solution,” a complicated parliamentary tactic that would allow House Democrats to pass the Senate bill without a direct vote, Lawlor said Kratovil is more focused on the bill’s content.
“He’s been in favor of transparency the entire time,” said Lawlor. “In the long run, he knows he’s going to have to answer for this bill.”