US lawmakers began five contentious hours of debate Tuesday over repealing the health care law, with Republicans insisting there is bipartisan support for wiping President Barack Obama’s landmark reforms from the books.
Democrats have slammed the effort — the 31st vote to repeal part or all of the Affordable Care Act — as a political show, but acknowledged it’s all but certain to pass the House of Representatives when it reaches the floor Wednesday.
Hoyer also acknowledged there would be some Democratic defectors who will vote for repeal.
Republicans, however, are touting the defections as a sign of broader discontent with Obama’s reforms.
Republicans say “Obamacare” is placing unfair financial burdens on small companies whose costs they say are rising under the health care law, charges the White House and Democrats refute.
Wednesday’s vote is largely symbolic. Democrats control the Senate, and Obama wields a powerful presidential veto pen.
Even so, top Senate Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was mindful of last year’s Senate vote to repeal, which failed but saw every Republican vote in favor of ending Obama’s signature health reforms, and said he was pursuing a similar bill again.
Congresswoman Nan Hayworth said that while she lauded the goals of the Affordable Care Act in seeking to bring the world’s richest economy several steps closer to universal health care, “it is not the time for Washington… to impose $2 trillion worth of federally generated cost at a time when we have a massive debt that we already can not afford.”
The health care law, she said, “is nothing short of economic malpractice.”
Such was the tone on the House floor, where Democrat Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) slammed the “Republican reflux” of futile hammering against a bill Democrats argue most Americans don’t want repealed.
Health care reform is now enshrined “right alongside Social Security and Medicare,” he said of two cherished entitlement programs.