WEST WINDSOR – At a town hall meeting tonight in front of a crowd of supporters, detractors and agitators, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-Hopewell Twp.) defended his decision to vote in favor of healthcare reform legislation that Saturday passed in theHouse by a margin of 220-215.
"The healthcare bill that passed requires standards of private employers, improves Medicare, and adds assistance healthcare coverage for almost all Americans," Holt, one of seven Democratic congressmen from New Jersey to vote in favor of the legislation, standing onstage in the Grover Middle School.
All five Republican congressmen from New Jersey voted against the bill, along with U.S. Rep. John Adler (D-Cherry Hill), the lone Democrat to cut from his party on the controversial bill.
"I'm very committed toa public option – a publicly administered government operated insurance policy – in addition to preserving an array of policies that currently exist," said Holt, who next year faces a challenge from GOP Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre, who opposes a public option.
Some baseball-capped would-be unrulies tried to boo Holt down early when he said "we need healthcare reform," at which point the congressman said, "If you start blurting out like a third grader I will ask you to leave."
If half the crowd arrived with the intent to groan every time Holt uttered the words "public option," and afew scattered personscould be glimpsedmouthing the word"socialism," most of the questions from Holt's opponents came in a civil if agitated tone.
"You were one of 75 congressmen to vote for the continued funding of that organization (Acorn)," said David Hitchcock, who wanted to know why.
Holt said Congress shall not pass a bill of attainder, which he believed the amendment pulling the plug on Acorn funding was, attached to a student aid bill with the specific intent of targeting and punishing the community organizing group.
He said the evidence offered as damning in Acorn's case came off of Youtube and wasn't sufficient, in his estimation.
"We must not have in this country trial by Twitter," said Holt.