“This Is Just The Beginning”: Senate Republicans Fail In Health Care Repeal Push, But Vow To Keep Fighting

By Cullen Dirner

Feb 2, 2011 6:45pm

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe reports: Senate Democrats today shot down an attempt by Republicans to repeal the controversial new health care law. Senators voted strictly along party lines – 51 to 47 – on the repeal: every Republican supported repeal, while every Democrat who voted opposed repeal. Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-CT, and Mark Warner, D-VA, missed the vote. The repeal needed 60 votes to advance past a so-called budget point of order in the Senate, something that it was never likely to do given the Democrats’ majority in the upper chamber of Congress. Ultimately just getting the repeal to a vote in the Senate was a victory for Republicans. The GOP, led by Mitch McConnell, insisted that the Senate vote on repealing the law after the Republican-controlled House voted to do so last month. When Democrats this week brought the $35 billion FAA reauthorization bill to the Senate floor – touting it as “the first jobs bill” of the new Congress, one that would save or create an estimated 280,000 jobs – Republicans tried to attach the repeal as an amendment. Democrats protested on the grounds of a budget point of order because it would add to the deficit, leading to today’s vote. Earlier today senators engaged in heated debate on the chamber floor about the law. “The Republican leadership has offered an amendment to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act. Now, Mr. President, they're only keeping half of their promise,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, said. “They went out there and campaigned and the Tea Party had a teapot boiling over and they said, ‘We're going to offer a bill to repeal and replace.’ Well, guess what they're doing here today? One more hollow, symbolic pander to the masses amendment. Their amendment offers a repeal, but it does not offer a plan or strategy to replace, because you know why? They have no ideas. They just want to pander to the crowd.” “If you want to rewrite your bill, keep your promise, Republican Party, that if you want to repeal, let’s go to replace. I want to hear their ideas for replacing. I challenge them right here right now today on this amendment – come in with other amendments on your idea to replace it. I want to know what it is that they want to do.” Countered Sen. John Barrasso, R-WY, “If this law is so good, why do so many people who supported it in the first place now say I don't want it to apply to me?” “As people know more and more about what's in this law, it is less popular on a daily basis.” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, proposed that in an effort to avoid a long, drawn-out fight the Senate should pass a resolution asking the Supreme Court for a swift decision on the constitutionality of the law. “I would urge the Senate to consider adopting the resolution asking the Supreme Court to step in and to decide quickly whether the current law meets the constitutional test,” he said. While the repeal failed to advance, senators did move forward with an effort to change the much-maligned 1099 provision of the health care law. An amendment from Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, to scrap the 1099 reporting requirement from the law passed by a vote of 81-17. The requirement has been blasted by business owners. At a press conference after today’s votes, Republicans vowed to continue fighting against the health care law. “We think this is just the beginning,” McConnell said. “This issue is still ahead of us and we will be going back at it in a variety of different ways.”

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