TPM News

Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) has just been sworn in as the member of the House of Representatives for the NY-23 district, after winning this past Tuesday's special election and picking up a previously GOP-held seat for the Democrats.

His certificate of election has not been finalized yet, but the outcome of the race is not in any doubt, and his Conservative Party opponent Doug Hoffman conceded the race. Thus, Owens was able to be sworn into office as soon as was practical.

The following is the prepared text of his first speech to the House:

"Madam Speaker,

"I am honored to be here with you all today, and to join you in our continuing effort to build a better, stronger America. This is a proud day for me and my family but it is also a sad day for our country. The shooting at Fort Hood last night that claimed the lives of 13 fine Americans is a stunning reminder of how quickly the peace we enjoy here at home can turn to violence, and how heavily we rely on our brave men and women to keep us free from harm. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, and with our soldiers to whom we owe our safety and our freedom.

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President Obama will speak to House Democrats before they vote on the health care bill, even if the vote is pushed to Sunday or Monday.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters in his daily briefing that due to the shootings at Ft. Hood yesterday, schedules changed and that's why Obama is planning to go to the caucus tomorrow instead of today as originally scheduled.

"The president wanted to go closer to the vote," he said.

Obama "will go to Capitol Hill to advocate for continuing that progress," Gibbs said.

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters today that President Obama will attend the memorial service for the 13 killed at Fort Hood.

"When a service is scheduled, the President will attend," he said.

Gibbs said the service will be held after all of the notifications have been completed, and that the White House will work Obama's schedule around what's best for the families.

He added that it will likely be held before the President's trip to Asia next Wednesday.

Early in the health care debate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised single-payer advocate Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) that the House would hold a mostly-ceremonial vote on a Medicare-for-all amendment. It was a move intended to appease the sizable faction of House liberals who felt they'd had to swallow too many compromises during the committee process.

But if you allow a vote on one amendment you might get drowned in them, so Pelosi and Weiner have come to an understanding and are walking away from the agreement.

"I have decided not to offer a single payer alternative to the health reform bill at this time," says Weiner in a statement. "Given how fluid the negotiations are on the final push to get comprehensive health care reform that covers millions of Americans and contains costs through a public option, I became concerned that my amendment might undermine that important goal."

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I noted yesterday that, in its own quiet way, the Congressional Budget Office gave the Republicans' health care bill a failing grade: A package seemingly meant to address the problem of the uninsured that does almost nothing to expand insurance or lower premiums.

But somehow, someway, conservatives don't seem to have noticed. In fact, they're celebrating!

"As a result of the House Republican bill, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office now confirms that families will see their health care premiums reduced by up to 10 percent and hard-working taxpayers can expect deficits to decrease by $68 billion over the next decade," reads a statement from Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN).

Let's go to the tape:

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So how many people showed up at Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) Capitol Tea Party? According to its right-wing supporters, it was anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 -- to one million!

"Estimates are anywhere between 20 and 45,000 people had assembled," Bachmann boasted on Sean Hannity's TV show last night.

On Greta Van Susteren's show, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) said: "I'm a bad estimate at crowds, but tens of thousands. I've heard 25 to 50,000."

On G. Gordon Liddy's radio show, his producer Franklin Raff said that the crowd was "just as big or bigger" than the 9/12 Tea Party march, which he had previously estimated to be about a million.

NBC's Luke Russert got an estimate of 3,000-3,500 people, from a Capitol policeman. As Think Progress points out, a photo posted by rally supporter Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) showed that the crowd did not even take up the full area of the Capitol building's lawn, and could not have been more than a few thousand people.

President Obama addressed both the shootings at Fort Hood and the newly released 10.2 percent unemployment rates in a short statement at the White House this morning.

On Fort Hood, he announced that the flags at federal buildings will be flown at half staff until Veterans Day.

"This is a modest tribute to those who lost their lives, even as many were preparing to risk their lives for their country," Obama said.

He emphasized that many details about what happened are still unknown.

"I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we get all the facts," he said. "What we do know is, families, friends and an entire nation is grieving."

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