Two weeks after its colleagues in the House voted to repeal President Obama’s health care reform law, the Senate rejected a similar vote, but with one caveat.
As expected, the senators voted along party lines, with all 51 of the Democrats present voting against the repeal, and all 47 Republicans present voting for. That everyone knew this was going to happen made the vote itself seem like theatrics prompted by bitter Republicans, and that’s pretty much exactly what it was.
Prior to the vote, the lawmakers gave a blistering round of speeches in which Republicans complained about the burdens health care reform would put on state budgets and small businesses but didn't offer any ideas of their own. For their part, Democrats jumped on the GOP’s unwillingness to put forth health care reform ideas.
"Republican Party … if you want to repeal, then let's go replace," said Senator Barbara Mikulski for Maryland. "I want to hear their ideas for replacement. I challenge them right here, right now, today, on this amendment."
Though they didn’t agree on repealing the entire law, the senators were able to reach a deal on repealing one controversial aspect of the reform. By a vote of 81 to 17, the Senate voted to drop from the health care law a 1099 tax reporting provision most agreed would have placed too much of a strain on business owners.
Despite not being able to repeal the health care law outright, Republicans say they will continue to be relentless in their attacks, chipping away at the reform piece by piece until it’s unrecognizable. This will include working to deny funding for specific aspects of the bill or, like they did Wednesday, voting to eliminate specific sections of the law one by one.
"There's a narrative I've seen and read out there that this was somehow a futile act because Republicans didn't have the votes to repeal Obamacare,” said Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn. “But I have to tell you, these are the first steps in a long road that will culminate in 2012, whereby we will expose the flaws and the weaknesses in this legislation.”
It’s widely assumed that the ultimate decision about health care reform will be made by the U.S. Supreme Court, which could happen as early as 2012. Until then, continue to expect this Republican-led bickering on Capitol Hill.
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