Senate Democrats on Tuesday vowed to slam the door on Republican attempts to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law while accusing the GOP of turning the bipartisan, jobs-oriented Federal Aviation Administration bill into an unnecessary political fight to satisfy the tea party.
Democrats were reacting to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) filing the House-passed health care repeal bill as an amendment to the FAA legislation. A news conference that Democratic leaders had intended to tout the benefits of that bill instead turned into an aggressive denunciation of the GOP’s health care tactics, with Democrats promising to preserve the law even as they remain open to accepting some adjustments.
“Not every bill has to be a fight; not every bill has to be a partisan issue. So it’s disheartening that Republicans are going to turn this bill into a fight,” said Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray (Wash.), who also serves as Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairwoman.
“What they’re doing is bowing to the tea party,” Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) added. “It’s going to lose.”
Republicans said they were simply responding to the will of midterm election voters, adding that repealing the health care law would cut government spending and boost private-sector job creation.
Freshman Sen. Ron Johnson, the owner of a manufacturing business, said it was important for Senate Republicans to vote on repeal, even though its prospect for passage is bleak and Obama would veto it even if it did clear the chamber. Johnson had never run for office before and was motivated in part by his opposition to the health care law.
“I think it’s extremely important to get people on record,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “The fact that government is so large — it has gotten so burdensome and so intrusive — that creates a high level of uncertainty. It removes confidence from our economy — that affects job creation.”
McConnell moved on the House-passed health care repeal bill one day after U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson — appointed by President Ronald Reagan — ruled the health care law unconstitutional. Democrats are expected to block an actual up-or-down vote on the amendment by raising a budget point of order sometime today on the grounds that repeal would add to the deficit.
Overcoming a point of order requires 60 votes, and it was unclear whether even one Democrat would join with the 47 Republicans in support. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who is co-sponsoring a measure to repeal the 1099 provision of the law with Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), made it clear that he does not support repeal even though he has said he would have opposed the new law.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.