Newt Gingrich personally urged members of Congress to vote for a controversial Medicare expansion bill in 2003, two Republicans who were in the room said this week.
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Gingrich, who is running for president, has said he never lobbied members of Congress after he resigned as House speaker in 1998. But U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake and former congressman Butch Otter told The Des Moines Register this week that Gingrich helped persuade reluctant Republicans to vote for the Medicare prescription-drug program, which barely passed.
Flake and Otter, who have endorsed Mitt Romney for president, said about 30 Republican House members were holding out against the bill in the fall of 2003 because they feared the proposal would expand the federal deficit. Proponents brought in Gingrich, who addressed a private meeting of Republican House members, they recalled. “He told us, ‘If you can’t pass this bill, you don’t deserve to govern as Republicans,’ ” said Flake, who represents an Arizona district. “…If that’s not lobbying, I don’t know what is.”
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