US Senate Blocks Vote on Health Care Repeal Bill

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Votes Stem from U.S. House Republican Victory Last Month on Adoption of HR 2

U.S. Senate Activities

At approximately 6:24 p.m. (ET) today (Wednesday February 2, 2011), the U.S. Senate blocked a formal vote on the health care reform bill by a margin of 51-47 on a procedural motion. The Senate started debating the merits of PPACA on the floor today, with the Republicans highlighting the problems of the new law, and Democrats arguing the need to move forward with the current healthcare reform law. The U.S. House bill “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act” (H.R.2) was referred to the Senate late last month. See discussion below for additional details about H.R. 2.

Earlier today, the Senate also voted to repeal the first piece of President Obama’s health care overhaul, a new 1099 filing requirement that’s been universally panned by business owners. The amendment to repeal the tax reporting requirement passed with broad bipartisan support, 81-17.

See original BenefitMall blog on this subject at BenefitMall.com.

U.S. House Activities

In early January, the new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives immediately moved to deliver on its promise to force a vote on the repeal of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). House Minority Whip Eric Cantor filed a bill, H.R. 2, entitled “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act” (H.R.2) the first day the House was in session. H.R. 2 was filed with 181 cosponsors, all Republican.  If the Act were to become law, it would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in its entirety. 

H.R. 2 quickly moved through the House and was ratified by a highly partisan vote of 245 to 189 on January 19.  The Republican majority had hoped that a large number of the moderate democrats that survived the 2010 election would vote for the repeal; when the PPACA was originally passed in the House in March 2010, 39 Blue Dog House Democrats voted against the bill.  However, when the vote took place last month on H.R. 2, only three democrats, Rep. Dan Boren (OK-2), Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC-7), and Rep. Mike Ross (AR-4), joined the republicans and voted to repeal. The remaining 10 Blue Dog House Democrats who survived the 2010 mid-term election voted against H.R. 2 and in favor of keeping the PPACA intact. 

Some pundits have credited the recent rise of Obama’s standing in the polls as the reason that so few Blue Dogs voted with the Republican Majority, while others have stated that the group that voted against the PPACA in 2010 did so with then–Majority Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s approval, who knew just how many favorable votes was needed and allowed many of the blue dogs to vote “no” as long as the Democrats already had enough favorable votes for passage. This time, Pelosi was not in a position to grant any waivers, needing every Democrat vote to keep the Republicans from being able to claim any bipartisan support for HR 2, and was largely successful in that effort.

Upon passage in the House, H.R. 2 was forwarded to the Senate on January 26th and is facing a far less favorable reception as demonstrated by today’s vote.   

Next Steps

To repeal part or all of PPACA, Republicans still must convince 13 Democrat Senators to vote with them for a motion for cloture.  The U.S. Senate’s vote to repeal the 1099 filing requirement is a good start.  However, the prospects for a complete repeal are now unlikely.  Even if the Republicans were to find the 13 Democrat votes, the Act would still land on President Obama’s desk, and the President has vowed to veto any legislative measure that would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 

The purpose of H.R. 2 was to allow the Republicans to deliver on their promise for a floor vote on a bill to repeal the PPACA and force the Democrats in the House and Senate to go on the record as opposing repeal. Both Harry Reid and President Obama have said that they will consider fine tuning the PPACA, but just how much tuning will take place remains to be seen. 

Stay tuned to this blog for further developments.

To the latest details about the bill, visit http://thomas.loc.gov/ and type in “HR 2” under the search window for “bill number.”

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