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Health care repeal vote puts heat on Democrats
Effort unlikely to prevail in Senate
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said it’s up to Congress to decide what to do with the health care law, and House Republicans are following his advice, forcing the chamber to vote Wednesday on repealing the entire package just weeks after the Supreme Court said it’s constitutional.
The symbolic vote won’t go far — Senate Democrats are certain to block it if it passes the House — but Republicans hope it will build momentum by putting Democrats on the spot in states and districts across the country where the law remains unpopular.
Some Democrats have already reversed course and said they’ll vote for repeal this time around in the wake of the court’s ruling.
“I’ve heard from hundreds and hundreds of people from my district about their opposition to the health care law,”Rep. Larry Kissell, North Carolina Democrat, told the Charlotte Observer last week. “I voted against it originally, and I will vote to repeal it.”
Others have stayed quiet since the 5-4 high court decision — including Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, who has barely mentioned the health care law since. Voters in her state in 2010 became the first to approve a measure aiming to nullify the law. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, faces a similar challenge to defend his seat in Ohio, where voters moved in 2011 to invalidate the law’s insurance mandate.
Other Democrats have tried to walk a fine line, arguing that both sides are to blame.
In North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat running to replace retiring Sen. Kent Conrad, says that parts of the law need to be fixed, but she applauds some of its more popular provisions.
And Bob Kerrey and Richard Carmona, Democratic candidates for Senate in Nebraska and Arizona, respectively, are putting even more distance between themselves and Mr. Obama’s biggest legislative achievement, saying the law needs improvement.
The debate on repeal began on the House floor Tuesday and ends Wednesday afternoon with a final vote.
“We’ll repeal ‘Obamacare,’ and when you watch the vote and you look at the news, it’s not just Republicans voting to repeal ‘Obamacare,’ you’ll find Democrats will join with us,” said Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, California Republican.
But Democrats said the vote was a waste of time, since the House has already voted more than 30 times before on full or partial repeals, only to see them all fail to clear the Senate.
They also chided Republicans for failing to come up with a replacement or alternative to the health care law — something House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, and his GOP promised in the 2010 campaign “Pledge to America.”
“If you don’t succeed, try, try again,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield, North Carolina Democrat. “House Republicans are taking this phrase to a whole new level … my friends on the other side, you have a wrecking ball. Where is your plan?”
Even some Democrats who voted against the law in 2010 joined their colleagues in blasting the GOP for this week’s vote.
Pennsylvania Rep. Jason Altmire, who recently lost a primary challenge to Rep. Mark S. Critz in a redrawn district, said he won’t vote to repeal the law even though he opposed it during passage, saying Republicans should instead be working with Democrats to improve it.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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