Posted on 29 Mar 2010
Representative Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat who supported President Obama's health care bill, drew shouts of "amen" as he returned home on Friday. But his supporters did not publicize a speech he delivered Saturday morning, out of fear it would be disrupted by protesters.
Representative John Barrow, a Democrat from Georgia who voted against the bill, was embraced as a hero by white constituents. At the same event, distressed black voters assailed him, a problem in a district that is 44 percent African-American.
And Representative Anh Cao, a Louisiana Republican who opposed the bill, found a decidedly tepid reception in his district, where one-fifth of residents do not have health insurance.
Around the country this weekend, members of Congress found a bewildering crosscurrent of political forces awaiting them, on-the-ground evidence of how the issue has divided the country by party, race and region.
And for many it was not easy. “I hope all of you know that I ended up voting against a lot of the things I believe in,” Mr. Barrow said.
The receptions members of Congress received were a contrast to the seething anger visible immediately after the bill passed. Voters were more concerned and engaged than enraged.
Some Democrats who backed the overhaul trumpeted their votes, signaling that they would embrace the bill in their fall campaigns — despite polls so far showing strong public concern.
“A just society is one that shelters the homeless, feeds the hungry, that heals the sick,” Mr. Grayson said, though he will probably face a tough battle in his district.
Opponents of the bill carried their arguments from the halls of the Capitol back to their districts, warning that the new law would increase the deficit, cut access to health care and be the first step toward a government takeover of health care.
“I don’t think anybody fully comprehends what it means,” said Representative Aaron Schock, an Illinois Republican who opposed the bill.
Representative Walt Minnick, an Idaho Democrat who also voted against it, said it would do nothing to rein in health care costs. “You’re putting a Band-Aid on a bloody wound.”