The House of Representatives voted today to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It was the 33rd time Republicans have voted to chip away at, defund, or repeal the health care law. Democrats called the move a political charade since the repeal law has no chance of becoming law this year.
But leading into the Supreme Court’s health care decision on June 28, Speaker Boehner vowed to repeal anything that the justices left standing.
“We’ve made it pretty clear and I’ll make it clear one more time: If the court does not strike down the entire law, the House will move to repeal what’s left of it,” Boehner, R-Ohio, pledged the day before the ruling. “Obamacare is driving up the cost of health care and making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers.”
Thirteen days after the historic decision upholding the law, Boehner and the House Republicans made good on that promise. But it was a symbolic gesture. The repeal bill faces a Democratic double road-block in the form of the Senate and White House, there is not a snowball’s chance that this repeal will be signed into law.
The House vote was largely along party lines, 244 – 185. Five House Democrats – all of whom also opposed the law when it passed in 2010 – crossed party lines to vote with the majority. No Republicans defected on the vote.
The five Democrats voting for repeal are hailed from red or purple states and included Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Reps. Mike McIntyre and Larry Kissell of North Carolina, Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, and Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah.
So why did House Republicans take the vote?
“Hope springs eternal,” Boehner said Tuesday. “This is not what the American people want. They want to be empowered to make decisions about their own health care and their family’s health care. They don’t want the government involved in this, and so we’re going to continue to work to repeal this.”
The first time the House voted to repeal the law was on January 19, 2011, shortly after Boehner seized the speaker’s gavel from now Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, the first woman speaker in U.S. history.
Along the way, the House voted to block funding from numerous agencies to implement the health care provisions of the law. The House budgets each of the last two years also repealed and defunded the law.
Not all 33 votes have been futile efforts. Republicans boast that seven provisions have been repealed and signed into law. Free choice vouchers and a tax reporting requirement for small businesses were repealed by Congress and signed by President Obama into law. The Obama administration also pulled the plug on the CLASS Act program for long-term care.
Democrats have admitted that there are areas of the law that need some refining, but stand by the individual mandate, which the court determined was constitutional under the legislative branch’s power to tax, and intend to make the law a central part of their campaign dialogue.
“Things need to be improved in the law, we know that,” Rep. Raul Grijalva told ABC News this week. “But repeal of it is something that we should all be very aggressive about not only voting against but make it part of the campaign dialogue or debate that goes on for the next four months.”
UPDATE: This post has been changed to reflect passage of the bill.