Local Politics

Health reform opponents target Etheridge

Posted March 16, 2010 12:28 p.m. EDT
Updated March 16, 2010 2:30 p.m. EDT

— For the second time in five days, people opposed to President Barack Obama's efforts to overhaul the nation's health care system rallied Tuesday on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh.

A coalition of conservative advocacy groups held a demonstration outside 2nd District Congressman Bob Etheridge's office in an effort to sway his vote on the pending health reform legislation, which is expected to come up for a House vote in the next few days.

Reform opponents said they need the support of 38 Democratic House members to block passage of the bill, and Etheridge is among the few undecided votes left.

Etheridge was in Washington, D.C., Tuesday because the House was in session.

Twenty-two Democrats have already said they plan to vote against the reform bill, including three from North Carolina – 7th District Congressman Mike McIntyre, 8th District Congressman Larry Kissell and 11th District Congressman Heath Shuler.

Last week, conservative groups staged a similar rally on Fayetteville Street, and supporters of the reform bill organized a counter-demonstration across the street to encourage Etheridge to vote for the proposal.

Etheridge voted for health reform last fall and has said he would support a compromise bill with the Senate if the plan reins in health care costs, ensures quality care, provides access and preserves choice of providers.

Obama has traveled to Pennsylvania, Missouri and Ohio in recent weeks to drum up grassroots support for the bill.