House Gears Up to Repeal Obamacare (Again)
Less than two weeks after the Supreme Court upheld the president's health care reform law, the House of Representatives is set to vote to repeal the legislation again in what Democrats have decried as a political show vote while also embracing it as another opportunity to explain the perks of the law to voters.
Lawmakers will begin debating the GOP's proposal to repeal the law Tuesday, with a final vote expected Wednesday afternoon.
To date, the House has voted 32 times to defund, dismantle and repeal the Affordable Care Act. In one of the first acts of the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives 18 months ago, the House first voted to repeal the health care law, January 19, 2011, passing the measure 245-189. At the time, just three House Democrats - Reps. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, and Mike Ross of Arkansas - joined the House GOP in supporting repeal. A month later, repeal failed in the Democrat-controlled Senate 47-51.
Despite an inadequate sum of votes in the Senate to repeal it, House Speaker John Boehner said voting for repeal in the aftermath of the court's decision will only act to strengthen his party's resolve.
Now, rank and file Republicans are lining up behind the speaker to show some backbone.
"I don't think it's symbolic," Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., told ABC Monday evening. "Now that we know that the truth is out there that this is a tax, we need to be able to let the American people know where we stand."
Democrats are using the opportunity to renew support for the law, dismissing the GOP's latest repeal attempt as a "political charade" and "campaign fodder."
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., urged Democrats to stay on offense and trumpet the benefits of the law that are already being realized by voters, unlike the defensive posture congressional Democrats took in the 2010 midterm election.
"We're not going to be defensive or apologetic," Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, declared. "Things need to be improved in the law - we know that - 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. I think it's going to help us."
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who played a chief role in passing the bill, said the GOP's attempt to repeal the law is not just about politics, but also what would be taken away from Americans already enjoying assistance mandated by law.
"It's more than just whether or not they will do it and its politics. It is about the philosophy that is behind it and who they are willing to hurt and whose side they're on. That's what this vote is about," DeLauro, D-Conn., said. "It's making health care affordable for those who have it and for those who do not have it. That is what Republicans do not want to have happen."
But no matter the miniscule odds of successfully repealing the law with the current dynamic of a divided Congress, Republicans remain steadfast in their quest to fulfill a campaign promise that helped propel them into the majority two years ago.
"If you've got orders to take a hill, you're going to keep going until you take the hill," West, R-Fla., explained. "The American people don't want this Patient Protection Affordable Care Act. It's heinous, it's onerous. They want it gone so we as their representatives are going to continue to do what they sent us up here to do which is every way that we possibly can make sure that this bad policy, this bad law is irradiated from our rolls."