It’s déjà vu on Capitol Hill.
The House voted yet again today, 229-195, to repeal the nation’s health care law. It marked the 37th time lawmakers have tried to overturn the entire landmark act or a piece of it.
“Some critics have suggested it’s a waste of time,” Speaker John Boehner told reporters, a suggestion that he summarily dismissed.
The Ohio Republican added, “We’re going to keep the focus on Obamacare because it’s driving up the cost of health care, it’s reducing access for the American people and it’s making it harder for small businesses to hire workers.”
Two conservative Blue Dog Democrats, Reps. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., and Jim Matheson, D-Utah, voted along with 227 House Republicans in support of the bill. The repeal legislation, sponsored by Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, passed the House. But even she and her fellow Republicans know that it will go no further, given that Democrats control the Senate and the White House, and the Supreme Court has already ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional.
The health care debate today marks at least the 43rd day, congressional officials say, since Republicans won control of the House in 2010 that they have focused on the issue. Taken together, that is more than eight work weeks.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said it’s no waste of time for lawmakers. Republicans are eager to cast another vote against the bill, and force Democrats to vote in favor of the legislation again before the 2014 midterm elections.
“Our continuing efforts to repeal the health care law are popular and responsible, and few issues are more important than health care to the American people,” Steel said. “I am frankly sick of smug talking heads nattering that we are wasting time by voting on this issue.”
Three years ago, as Republicans worked to win a majority in Congress, they offered legislation to repeal and replace the health care bill. But the replacement was not discussed today, only the repeal.
“The issue,” Boehner said, “is Obamacare.”