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House Passes Repeal of Health Care Law In Symbolic Vote

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WASHINGTON -- House Republicans voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to repeal the historic health care reform law in a largely symbolic exercise to appease the tea party movement and keep a campaign promise that helped them retake the majority in November.

The 245 to 189 vote fell sharply along party lines. No Republicans voted against the bill. Three Democrats voted to repeal the law.

Even as lawmakers cast their votes on the provocatively named "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act," the measure was as good as dead.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called it, "nothing more than partisan grandstanding at a time when we should be working together to create jobs and strengthen the middle class" and said he didn't intend to bring it to the floor. Even if he did, and enough of his fellow Democrats underwent a partisan conversion to pass it, President Obama has promised a veto.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor urged Reid to change his mind.

"I have a problem with the assumption here that somehow the Senate can be a place for legislation to go into a cul-de-sac or a dead end," he said. "The American people deserve a full hearing. They deserve to see this legislation go to the Senate for a full vote."

There are signs that despite the House vote, the raw emotions over health care reform that fueled raucous town hall meetings and tea party rallies, and catapulted Republicans into the House majority, are abating.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll found opposition to the law easing, with barely one in four favoring total repeal. Support for repeal dropped sharply among Republicans, from 61 percent after the elections to 49 percent now.

A separate Washington Post-ABC News poll also found weak support for doing away with the law in its entirety, with just 18 percent saying all of it should be repealed. Yet another poll revealed a divided public but with the highest percentage saying the law is a good idea since September 2009.

'A promise kept'

"Some in the cynical political class are saying this is a gimmick, an empty gesture," said Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, a possible Republican presidential candidate. "We on the other side call it a promise kept."

That refrain was repeated by Republicans often during the House debate. For even if repeal goes nowhere legislatively after today, health care will play a central role in the 2012 elections. Republicans have made iy clear they will argue that what they derisively call "ObamaCare" should be enough reason to make its namesake a one-term president.

The issue also will live on in the courts; six more states joined a lawsuit in Florida to overturn the historic overhaul. More than half the states, nearly all with Republican attorneys general, are now fighting the law's requirement that all Americans buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty.

The House vote came after two days of debate that had been delayed a week because of the tragedy in Tucson. The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the national mourning for those who died served to soften the harsh rhetoric around health care even as the vote was overshadowed by the state visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Republicans reprised arguments that the law would hurt the economy, create an unaffordable new entitlement program and amounts to a "government takeover" of health care.

The law will "increase spending, increase taxes and destroy jobs," Speaker of the House John Boehner said. "The Congress can do better in terms of replacing ObamaCare with common sense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance and expand access for more Americans."

As on the first day of debate, incendiary phrases such as "death panels" were mostly avoided.

But many GOP lawmakers waded back in to the sort of language widely questioned after Giffords was attacked.

Lee Terry of Nebraska called the law "a trillion dollar tragedy" and a "job killer." Jeff Duncan of South Carolina rose in favor of repealing the "job-killing, socialistic and out-of-touch health care bill." Mo Brooks of Alabama assailed "Obama's socialized medicine" and Steven Palazzo of Mississippi called the law a "monstrosity."

John Kline of Minnesota, in seeking repeal of the "job-killing legislation," said it was a "first step toward the right kind of reform."

Not that all Democrats have kept a civil tongue on the issue. On Tuesday, Tennessee Democrat Steven Cohen accused Republicans of using the Nazi's "big lie" strategy to discredit the health care law.

Republicans say they want to replace the Affordable Care Act with many of the same provisions they sought to repeal, such as allowing parents to keep children on their health insurance until age 26. GOP leaders have offered few details but intend to discuss their plans at a news conference Thursday.

Democrats spoke of constituents they said would be hurt by repeal. They accused the GOP of being in the pocket of insurance companies in seeking to return to a time when they could deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and cap lifetime benefits to the sickest people.

"This is the Harry Houdini health care strategy," railed Democrat Joseph Crowley of New York. "Now you have health care coverage, now you don't."

Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., asked whether seniors on Medicare who had received $250 checks to cover prescription drug costs would have to give the money back if the law is repealed. "I would yield to anyone who would answer," he said. No Republican replied, although Cantor said seniors would not have to pay the money back.

Wednesday's vote was the culmination of a 10-month backlash against the historic health care law that included countless reports, briefings, op-eds, newspaper ads, blog posts, testimonials and unofficial hearings. Republicans offered a letter from 200 economists and experts opposing the law. Democrats issued a statement from 100- plus legal scholars attesting that the law is constitutional.

In a last-minute maneuver to put Republicans on the spot -- and give themselves fodder for future campaign ads -- Democrats introduced a motion to make repeal ineffective unless a majority of the House and Senate give up their federal health benefits within 30 days of passage by both houses of Congress.

"Americans have a right to know that those who support repeal are willing to live without the same benefits they are denying their constituents," a Democratic leadership aide said.

Although 14 House Republican freshmen have turned down government-provided health care, the measure failed.

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864 Comments

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ajschrod

Surely some of the GOP congressmen have read and digested the health- care plan. Did they find ANYTHING in it it thats worth salvaging, or was voting to repeal it what the RNC demanded of them? I don't know about other Republicans, but I resented last years GOP minority being called the party of "no" because of Chmn . Steele (and others)allowing not even the slightest cooperation with the Pres! To me, that was downright anti-American! If there's a better way to insure poor peoples health, that's fine--but must it start from scratch?

January 25 2011 at 6:36 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
lulublackstone

How does the health care law, requiring citizens to carry health care insurance, differ from laws requiring citizens to carry automotive insurance? Why is it alright to protect others and ourselves from expenses incurred in a auto accident and not alright to be required to protect ourselves medically. That is, the opportunity to have wellness check ups, to possibly catch a devastating health condition early. I have always worked for the last 30 years, from 1996 to 2010 I was not offered health insurance from my employers. I currently am employed by the USCG as a civilian employee and have insurance. Although, my premiums are higher than those of a friend working a non government job. My friend is 47 and has a heart condition, with his insurance his medications run 120.00 per month. Imagine what the cost would be without insurance. I have a condition requiring monthly blood work, lab costs are expensive with no insurance. Until 2010 I went to free clinics, which the counties provide funding for. During my time with no insurance I had 2 emergency surgeries with no insurance, even though I was employed. I realize it is easy to get caught up in the debate mode but I would hope that those making these decisions will ask themselves, again why is it O.K. to make automotive insurance a law but not institute a health care bill to help people take care of their health. And I agree, those willing to take health care away from constituents should be willing to pay out of pocket for their own insurance. Maybe that would help them to realize what the out of pocket cost is for medical insurance.

January 25 2011 at 1:29 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
tsunamicoming

It is NOT a symbolic vote. There is 113 BILLION DOLLARS spent on the ILLEGALS now YEARLY. DEPORT these ILLEGALS now. One million jobs....at least 36% of the 1 million are taken by the illegals.

January 24 2011 at 9:01 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply
druid0621

This was not a symbolic vote, but the first step in a necessary journey. This law and its resulting regulations are a drag on the economy, adding costs to businesses and stalling hiring. If we can elect a Republican Senate and President in 2012, we can begin our long-awaited return to growth and prosperity.

January 24 2011 at 3:46 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to druid0621's comment
aethon007

Regulations are necessary for a free market. They set a level playing field, enforce quality transparency, and allow competition. Monopolies (absence of regs) would be the antithesis of free market economy. Basic Adam Smith Economics. Just because the private sector may have complete control over all the goings on in an industry absolutely does not make it better (neither for the individual nor the country) than with government oversight. After all - why do we have criminal laws then, if we are all so altruistic? GOP needs to find a realistic ideology.

January 25 2011 at 3:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rjsparling

The fact that the House would waste their time and our money on a vote for a law that they know is DOA in the Senate is unconscionable. The show takes time and resources away from the business of the people for the purpose of furthering a political agenda.

The two party political system has turned out to be nothing more than another team sport, harder hitting than football. The public is betting on the game too - betting their futures.

January 24 2011 at 11:33 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rjsparling's comment
Samantha

I'm wondering if you took the time to speak your piece when this bill was passed in the dead of night without being read. As Speaker Pelosi told them to "PASS THE BILL SO THEY COULD SEE WHAT WAS IN IT." What a joke our government has become.

January 31 2011 at 6:57 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
mitch

Oh and i forgot to mention TWO wars that keep adding to the national debt. Maybe since Congress is finally getting this Obamacare problem figured out since thats what they think is causing all the problems in the US, then they can figure out how to find a solution to these wars. They cost quite a bit i do belive.

January 23 2011 at 1:44 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
mitch

Politics as usual. Obamacare cost trillions, and now repealing it will cost over a trillion. NO party is better than the other. So much for those promises from both parties on reducing the national debt. America's budget is like a bucket with a hole in the bottom. We keep filling it up with water, but we're always leaking. What happens when the government can't afford to pay unemployment, food stamps, medicare/caid, diabiility etc etc because they are so far in debt?? Who will the states turn to when they are in debt?? These politicians need to quit playing politics and figure out how to steer the nation back on course...

January 23 2011 at 1:42 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
evolutionlake

Massachusetts' compulsary health care program was $400 million in debt last year. Obama bailed out the state so there would not be bad publicity nationwide. Now, who will bail out the U.S. government???

January 22 2011 at 11:35 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
lunapalooza7

Looking through the last 30 comments, I notice that any comment that doesn't adhere to the Republican stance gets a number of "thumbs down" votes. Yet there are almost no counter-comments made to them. I have to conclude that the negative voters cannot muster a viable response...

January 22 2011 at 11:31 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
pmbalele

John Boehner and Mitchell McConnell and republicans in Assembly manipulated TEA Partiers, Republican supporters and American people. How can those two put a vote when they knew it was worthless? And if you look at the picture, both Boehner and McConnell are making funny and laughing at American people. They think American people are dumb. These wasted time and money manipulating American people. They have been telling us government should run like a business. I do not think manipulating American people is business like. We have to prepare to vote them out in 2012.

January 22 2011 at 3:15 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pmbalele's comment
commandant

The vote to repeal Obama's massive healthcare fraud was more than symbolic, it proves that Republicans are serious about it. No taxpayer money was squandered during the vote!

January 24 2011 at 2:24 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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