As Senator McConnell offered his amendment on Tuesday, February 1, he characterized the move as "an opportunity for all those who supported the health care law … to re-evaluate your vote." His effort to seek a simple up-and-down vote on repealing ObamaCare has come one step closer to fruition, as he was expected to tack a repeal amendment onto a massive Federal Aviation Administration budget reauthorization bill that the Senate began debating Tuesday afternoon.
In brief comments from the Senate floor, McConnell said, "Today we reaffirm our commitment to work a little harder to get it right. We can't afford to get it wrong."
National Public Radio reports:
"We don't have an agreement on the manner in which we have a vote, but everyone will have the opportunity to be on the record," McConnell said Tuesday, when asked by reporters if he and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had formally come to terms on raising the repeal amendment. "It will be clear who is for repeal and who isn't."
Repeal is not expected to survive a vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate; if it does, President Obama has promised to wield his veto pen. The Republican-controlled House voted last month to repeal the law. A federal judge in Florida yesterday declared the law unconstitutional, finding that its requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance exceeds Congress's power. The law's constitutionality is expected to ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
McConnell called the Florida decision "significant," but said he would have moved ahead with a repeal vote effort "in any event." As Democrats vowed to crush the GOP-led campaign, McConnell urged his colleagues to take a second look at the law in light of public criticism and the recent legal action. "We have an opportunity today. ... It's an opportunity to reevaluate your vote," McConnell said. "You can say, 'perhaps this was a mistake, we can do this better.' Or you can continue to dismiss the majority of the people in this country as not knowing what they're talking about."
Moments earlier, Senate Democrats vowed to defeat the amendment, expected to come up for a vote Wednesday. Republicans, who have all 47 members of their caucus on board for the repeal vote, would need to amass 60 votes to overcome the procedural hurdle Democrats plan to erect. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused Republicans of trying to help the insurance companies and assured that the bill would not go anywhere. He called it a "deficit-buster."
In addition, Democrats may object to the amendment on technical, procedural grounds. The amendment will prompt the Democrats to raise a point of order — claiming, in effect, that "repealing a multi-trillion, multi-bureaucratic expansion of the government will add to the deficit." Republicans will move "to waive the point of order [or 'POO,' in Senate parlance], which is a 60-vote threshold." That vote likely will happen Wednesday.
A statement issued by Senator McConnell’s office said the following:
It’s no secret the American people don’t like the health bill that passed last year. And if you’ve talked with doctors or nurses or anybody else involved in health care over the last year, most of them will tell you they don’t like it either.
Employers big and small have been desperately trying to get the message across of how damaging this bill will be to their ability to create jobs.
They tell us the impact of this bill is severe.
Higher taxes. Penalties for hiring workers. New regulations that already run to more than 6,000 pages. Mountains of new paperwork.
All this at a time at a time when businesses want to create jobs, and millions of Americans are looking for one.
Don’t take it from me. Here’s how the National Federation of Independent Businesses puts it: "Small business owners everywhere," the NFIB has said, "are rightfully concerned that the unconstitutional new mandates, countless rules and new taxes in the healthcare law will devastate their business and their ability to create jobs."
And now, yesterday, a federal court in Florida found the crux of the law to be unconstitutional.
In a speech delivered on the floor of the Senate Tuesday, McConnell said the following:
It’s no secret that most Americans opposed the health care bill that Democrats jammed through Congress last March. It’s also no secret that Democrats would like to move past it. But the fact is, the more Americans learn about this bill the less they like it, and the more urgent it becomes for those who pledged to repeal and replace it to follow through.
Opposition to the bill continues to build. And when two federal courts in a row rule that this bill is unconstitutional and we learn every day of some other way it’s not only making health care worse but also hurting jobs and the economy, it’s no wonder more Americans support repeal than oppose it, and that the percentage of those who say they support full repeal is higher now than ever. Americans are outraged that the promises that were made about this bill have turned out to be empty. And court rulings like the one out of Florida yesterday only add to the urgency of scrapping this bill and starting over.
Leave aside for a moment all the broken promises. The first requirement of this law or any law is that it at least be constitutional. This bill fails to meet that basic test.
And, as yesterday’s ruling concluded, it can’t be fixed.
This entire bill hinges on its core requirement that every citizen purchase health insurance. If that’s unconstitutional, and two federal courts now say it is, then the whole thing needs to be scrapped.
The importance of a repeal vote becomes more evident every day. Americans view it as an important decision point — a marker that shows we’re serious about a return to limited government. On that point, it should be clear where Republicans stand. Every one of us voted against the bill. Every one of us voted for repeal after that. And this week, every Republican reaffirmed his or her commitment to doing it again.
McConnell’s effort stems from his belief that repealing ObamaCare cannot be left solely up to the judiciary. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) stressed the need for a Senate vote on the matter, while praising the ruling of Florida’s U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson:
“ObamaCare was a mistake. However, we cannot leave this decision in the hands of judges alone. The Senate Democrat leadership should follow the House’s lead and hold an up-or-down vote to repeal ObamaCare. The optimal outcome for Florida and the American people is to repeal the federal health care law and replace it with common sense reforms that will lower health care costs and get more Americans insured.”
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Bill to which McConnell is attaching his ObamaCare repeal amendment concerns aviation safety, and debate on the bill is being managed by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who will likely attempt to purge the legislation of any amendments aimed at repealing ObamaCare.
The amendment is significant because it allows newly-elected Democratic senators to cast a official vote on ObamaCare, an objective statement of where they stand on the issue. This will likely expose individuals such as Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) a self-identified, so-called “conservative Democrat,” who campaigned on a platform of opposing many of Obama’s key legislative initiatives, such as Cap-and-Trade and ObamaCare.
Manchin, who was promptly sworn in after his November electoral victory, quickly reneged on his campaign promises, and became yet another Democrat stooge for the Obama administration. Regarding the ObamaCare repeal amendment, Manchin’s communications director, Emily Bittner, issued the following statement, indicating his support for ObamaCare, conceptually and practically:
Sen. Manchin strongly believes that the healthcare law needs to be repaired. Sen. Manchin also believes that it doesn’t make common sense to throw out the good parts of this bill, so his priority is to make every effort to repair the bill before we start talking about repeal.
Senator Mitch McConnell’s effort to repeal ObamaCare accompanies an earlier initiative sponsored by Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a champion of constitutional and limited government. McConnell was one of 33 other co-sponsors of DeMint’s legislation, on which he said the following:
Republicans are standing with the American people who are demanding we repeal this government takeover of health care. Repealing ObamaCare is vital to the future of our nation and the health of our people. ObamaCare will raise health costs, reduce choices, ration care, hike taxes, cut jobs, increase the national debt, and put bureaucrats between patients and their doctors. It’s time to start over and implement commonsense solutions that allow Americans to choose affordable plans across state lines, end frivolous lawsuits that drive up costs, and [give] equitable tax treatment to those who don’t get insurance from their employer.
Economists have described ObamaCare as "fiscally dangerous," warning it will create barriers to job growth and increase costs at a time of great economic uncertainty.
American families and businesses are struggling and it’s our duty to respond quickly to their calls to repeal this bill and push for solutions that will make health care more affordable.
The effort to repeal ObamaCare in the Senate is not expected to pass, granted the paucity of Republican votes and the steadfast opposition of allegedly "moderate" or "conservative" Democrats, including also Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Senator Jim Webb, (D-Va.), who are considered highly vulnerable in the 2012 Senate elections, due to their support of ObamaCare, despite its immense unpopularity among their constituents.