The House of Representatives voted 245 to 189 to repeal the national health care law.
The legislation attracted more votes in the House than the initial passage of the law itself, which received 219. Just three Democrats, however, joined Republicans in voting for repeal — Dan Boren, Mike Ross and Mike McIntyre. Full roll call here.
While this particular repeal bill won’t move further, it could have some longer term political ramifications. Republicans needed to hold the vote so that in 2012 they can tell their voters, “you elected us and we passed repeal, but to complete the process we need to take back the Senate and the White House.” At the same time, there were 13 Democrats who voted against the original health care bill who are still in the House, meaning that Republicans can now paint the 10 who didn’t vote for repeal as supporters of the law.
The vote was also a victory for the tea parties. Nine months ago, Nancy Pelosi, then described as the most powerful Speaker in the history of the House, was able to jam through the health care law over fierce opposition from Republicans and the American people. At the time, repeal was seen as a joke and high profile Republicans seemed to be distancing themselves from it — or at least talking in terms of repealing only the worst aspects of the law. But now, not only have Republicans taken over, but they’ve made repeal their first act of any significance, and every member of their caucus has voted for it.
Democrats who I spoke to outside the House floor were dismissive of the vote.
“This is basically an unfortunate waste of time of the House of Representatives,” Rep. Tim Bishop, a Democrat from New York, told me. “This has no chance of being enacted into law, and we should spend our time doing what the American people told us they want to do, which is work on getting this economy back on track and putting people back to work.”
He went on, “An issue that has been fully litigated, as this one has, when there is absolutely no chance of this measure ever being enacted into law, I’d say the House’s time would be much better spent engaged in the work the American people sent us here to do.”
Rep. Barney Frank was a bit more measured in his comments.
“The Republicans have met their commitment to voters to vote for repeal, but it won’t go anywhere in the Senate, and we’ll move on legislatively,” Frank said. “I think it was more of a legitimate political statement. I don’t use ‘political statement’ as a bad word. It was a legitimate political statement, making clear what their position is.”
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