The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) called on its members today to make a last-minute appeal to Congress to defeat the Democrats' health care bill, which faces a critical vote in the House on Sunday.

"House lawmakers must understand that the rising cost of health care is unsustainable and in a struggling economy small employers need reforms that don't add to the cost of doing business," NLBMDA said in an e-mail regarding H.R. 3590. That measure was passed by the House and revised by the Senate, and now the House must decide whether to accept the Senate's version.

"[The health care bill] carries a massive price tag our country can't afford, and it fails to provide the fundamental healthcare solutions small business owners and their employees desperately need," NLBMDA said. "Jamming through a flawed bill that dumps disproportionate costs on small businesses while providing unfair exemptions for big business and labor unions is simply political pandering disguised as reform."

The NLBMDA alert urged that all House members be contacted and urged to vote no, but it focused in particular on a list of 15 representatives regarded as still undecided about the bill.

The vote is expected to be extremely close. As of late Friday, a count on The Washington Post website noted 216 votes are needed for passage. "If the remaining [undecided Democrats] voted the same as they did Nov. 7, the vote would be 216-215," the Post said.

Earlier this week, scores of LBM dealers, distributors, and window and door manufacturers appealed in person on Capitol Hill for Congressional action in favor of home retrofitting incentives, against Democrats' health care proposals, and for permanent estate tax relief. In talking points distributed to dealers before their visits (story). NLBMDA said it recommends Congress "start over on meaningful health care reform that lowers costs and increases small-business access to quality health care for our employees."

The association specifically dislikes sections in President Barack Obama's proposal that would mandate businesses issue IRS 1099 forms to every company from which it buys at least $200 in goods and services, and an increase in the Mediare Hospital Insurance trust portion of the payroll tax to 2.35% from 1.45% on wage or self-employment income over $200,000 for individual returns and $250,000 for joint returns. What tax credits exist for small business are too narrowly crafted to expire too soon, NLBMDA adds.