Ahead Of Debate, Health Care Battle Lines Drawn Democratic House leaders are keeping lawmakers in town over the weekend to work on their health care bill. President Obama is expected to rally support on the Hill on Saturday. With every step this legislation takes toward becoming law, the fervor — on both sides — gets stronger.

Ahead Of Debate, Health Care Battle Lines Drawn

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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

It could be a tough working weekend for members of the House of Representatives. Tomorrow, lawmakers are poised to take up the Democrats' health care overhaul bill. With every step this legislation takes toward becoming law, the fervor on both sides gets stronger, as NPR's Andrea Seabrook reports.

ANDREA SEABROOK: This week, the Capitol became the stage of an intense drama, the arches and columns its proscenium. Each party in the House unveiled its final health care proposal and immediately attacked the other's. Republicans opened a health care reading room - a long table with highlighters and pens and stacks of paper perfectly placed to appear carelessly strewn around after serious study. Republican conference chairman Mike Pence urged his colleagues to come here and read the bill.

MIKE PENCE: And when they do, we believe it will become obvious that this is nothing more than a government takeover of health care.

SEABROOK: Not to be outdone, Democrats opened their own reading room, led by Florida's Debbie Wasserman Schultz, to criticize the Republicans' bill.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Their collection of proposals won't even end discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. I mean, that is the bare minimum that everyone in America, essentially, agrees should be part of any health care reform proposal.

SEABROOK: And then yesterday, conservatives involved in the anti-tax tea party groups called their supporters to rally on the Capitol lawn. Minnesota's Michele Bachmann called it the final hour.

MICHELE BACHMANN: As the clock is ticking 11:59 on this health care reform, Speaker Pelosi is poised with her health care bill to takeover 18 percent of the American economy.

(SOUNDBITE OF BOOING)

Unidentified Group: Kill the bill. Kill the bill. Kill the bill...

SEABROOK: Over in the House office building, anti-abortion protesters gathered outside of Pelosi's personal office. Diana Rocco-Grandy(ph) was among them.

DIANA ROCCO: I'm dressed as Nancy Pelosi burning in hell. So I have a suit on that's singed and covered in blood, and I have chains on, and I had dead babies draped from me.

SEABROOK: Grandy is angry that the bill doesn't explicitly ban all federal funding for abortion.

ROCCO: We pray that she does repent, and that she removes funding for child-killing from the health care bill. But if she does not, then she would be in danger of going to hell for forcing taxpayers also to pay for the murder of children.

SEABROOK: But also outside Pelosi's office were people from Code Pink, the liberal group led by activist Medea Benjamin.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: We have hospital gowns on, and when we turn around, you see our bare buns.

SEABROOK: And they carried signs that said: chances are your rump isn't covered - except the signs didn't use the word rump.

BENJAMIN: With our health care system now, there are not only 47 million people who have no health insurance, but a lot of people have such inadequate health insurance that their bare butt is not covered when they need it.

SEABROOK: Supporters shouted: health care for all. While protesters chanted: kill the bill. And the results?

Group: (unintelligible)

SEABROOK: A noisy drama, a clash of political theater, all building up to tomorrow's floor action.

Andrea Seabrook, NPR News, the Capitol.

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