Thursday, 03 February 2011

Senate Healthcare Repeal Vote Fails

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Yesterday evening, the “Repealing the Job Killing Health Care Law Act” failed to clear a procedural vote, 47-51. Though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had threatened not to bring the measure to the Senate floor, he agreed to allow the bill to come to the floor if Republicans agreed not to filibuster the Federal Aviation Administration bill. The vote was strictly party-line.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced the act as an amendment to repeal the overhaul law, which would have been attached to a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration. Additionally, a second GOP amendment was brought to the floor that would repeal the tax reporting requirement in the law — the “1099” language that requires small businesses to submit IRS tax forms for every vendor whom they pay more than $600.

Though Reid agreed to allow the bills to be heard on the floor, he stated, “We want to get this out of their system very quickly. Then, hopefully within a few minutes, we can move on and have a debate on creating jobs in America.”

The Senate vote took place on a “point of order,” as proposed by New York Democrat Charles Schumer, who argued that the measure would add more than a trillion dollars to the deficit, an inaccurate argument often used by proponents of ObamaCare. (In reality, any possible savings from ObamaCare are tenuous, at best, and are predicated on the idea that ObamaCare will increase taxes in an amount greater than ObamaCare will increase healthcare spending.)

The vote placed a great deal of pressure on Democrats who are up for reelection in 2012. The Tea Party Express urged voters to flood the offices of Democrats Jim Webb of Virginia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Jon Tester of Montana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri with calls to repeal the law.

However, even Joe Manchin and Ben Nelson — outspoken Democratic critics of the law — did not side with Republicans on the vote.

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The Senate floor was contentious yesterday as Republicans and Democrats revisited many of the same arguments made prior to the March vote which witnessed passage of the law.

Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina declared, “The basic premise [of the law] is flawed like pouring a few glasses of fresh water into a polluted river.”

Republicans declared that the law calls for “high taxes, less choices and bureaucrats making health care choices for Americans.”

Democrats like Max Baucus countered the arguments, asserting that the law was not as expensive as Republicans contended. “It does cost a trillion dollars. But it raises a trillion dollars so it costs nothing,” said Baucus.

While some lawmakers debated their position on the floor, the Senate Judiciary Committee considered the constitutionality of the law, a move that Republican Senator Charles Grassley asserts took place too late. “Under our system of limited and enumerated powers, the sensible process would have been to have held a hearing on the law’s constitutionality before the bill passed, not after.”

The hearing took place just two days after Judge Roger Vinson ruled in a lawsuit filed by 26 states that the law was unconstitutional.

Senator Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, believes that the judge’s decision will be overturned. “When the Affordable Act-Affordable Care Act comes before the Supreme Court, I’m confident that they will recognize that Congress can regulate the market for health care that we all participate in, and that it can regulate insurance, which is the primary means of payment for health care services.”

Meanwhile, states like Florida assert that they will not be enforcing the law, as a result of the Judge’s ruling.

Though the bill failed in the Senate, experts predict that Republicans will continue to try to introduce amendments revisiting the law. At the same time, the law will continue to work its way up the judicial system to the Supreme Court, a process that could take up to two years, though its expected to be completed by 2014 before the law takes effect.

Senator Reid said in a statement after the vote failed, however, “It’s time to move on from extreme, ideological plans to repeal a healthcare law that is lowering prices, expanding access to care and lowering our deficit. There is plenty of work left to do together to create jobs, expand our economy, and move this country forward.”

Though the repeal effort failed this time around, Republicans admit that the vote was in part intended to force Democratic Senators to take a position on the law, which could proved to be influential in the 2012 elections.

Meanwhile, despite the failed vote, Senator McConnell assures his constituents, “This fight isn’t over.”

Republicans have vowed to repeal ObamaCare and “replace” it with a replacement plan, though no specifics have been laid out as of yet.