Herseth Sandlin treads lightly in response to Pelosi questionU.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., treaded lightly Thursday in response to a question about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. On a regularly scheduled media conference call, Rapid City Journal reporter Kevin Woster asked Herseth Sandlin to describe her relationship with Pelosi in regard to the ongoing health-care reform effort.
By: Seth Tupper, The Daily Republic
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., treaded lightly Thursday in response to a question about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
On a regularly scheduled media conference call, Rapid City Journal reporter Kevin Woster asked Herseth Sandlin to describe her relationship with Pelosi in regard to the ongoing health-care reform effort.
“I would describe our relationship as, uh … uh …” Herseth Sandlin said, before emitting what sounded like a half-laugh, half-sigh and finally breaking an 11-second interlude with this: “… one in which she has, uh, I think she would respect, uh, my decision-making process and, uh, one in which she probably acknowledges that I have some disappointment on how this process has unfolded.”
Republicans seeking to oust Herseth Sandlin in the November election have tried to portray her as being in lockstep with Pelosi and the agenda of other liberal Democrats. But Herseth Sandlin voted against a House health-care reform bill that was backed by Democratic leaders late last year. She said Thursday that she also doesn’t like the health-care legislation in the Senate, and she has concerns about some of the health-care proposals she’s heard from President Barack Obama.
Herseth Sandlin was among a group of lawmakers invited to the White House to visit with Obama on Wednesday, and there was speculation that he would use the opportunity to lobby Herseth Sandlin and some other Democrats who have withheld their support for various health-care proposals.
She said the meeting’s main topic was fiscal responsibility, and that Obama mentioned health care to the group but did not speak to her about the issue.
“He and I didn’t get into any lengthy discussion whatsoever about health-care reform,” she said.
Regarding her relationship with Pelosi on health care, Herseth Sandlin said she has never hidden her concerns or simply said “no” to proposals without offering specific alternatives.
“I think Speaker Pelosi knows where my focus has been, and understands that I have been consistent in my focus not only on cost containment, but measures important to some of the unique circumstances we face in South Dakota,” Herseth Sandlin said. “And I think she recognizes that there was an unfortunate misunderstanding in judgment on the side of leadership as it related to how they included the Indian Health Care and Improvements Act.”
The Indian legislation was included in the House health-care reform bill that Herseth Sandlin voted against. House leaders apparently thought the inclusion of the Indian measure would help convince Indian Country lawmakers, like Herseth Sandlin, to vote for the health-care bill, but Herseth Sandlin and some tribal leaders thought there were flaws in the Indian legislation that House leaders failed to fix.