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Fight Over Health Law Resumes

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Speaker John Boehner (left) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor are pushing for a vote on repeal of President Barack Obama's health care law.

President Barack Obama’s health care reform law will be center stage again this week, as Republicans look to put coordinated bicameral pressure on Senate Democrats to take up a full repeal of the controversial law.

House Republicans pledged for months to offer a full repeal if the law was upheld by the Supreme Court, and on Wednesday they will do just that when they vote on a measure sponsored by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

“The House passed a similar bill last year, but it died in the Democratic-
controlled Senate,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wrote in a Friday op-ed in the Washington Times. “By passing our repeal bill in July, we will give the Senate and Mr. Obama a second opportunity to follow the will of the American people.”

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, will pivot to jobs and the economy, contending that the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the health care law should put the issue to rest. But Senate Republicans do not appear willing to acquiesce.

In his own Friday opinion piece in the Times, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated plans to push Senate Democrats — especially those up for re-election — to vote to repeal the law. McConnell and other Republicans have seized on the court ruling’s declaration that the law’s mandate to buy health insurance is constitutional because it acts as a tax on those who decline.

“It’s time for Democrats to stop defending the indefensible and to join us in repealing this colossal mistake. The court’s decision gives us the clearest proof yet that this law has to go, so we can clear the way for common-sense, step-by-step reforms that protect Americans’ access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost,” the Kentucky Republican wrote.

Unlike in the House, where Republicans can schedule repeal votes at will, Senate Republicans will have to use procedural maneuvering or amendments to work the issue onto the Senate’s agenda, which is dictated by Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Nevada Democrat has scheduled a test vote for Tuesday on a package of tax breaks designed to promote hiring and new equipment purchases by small businesses.

Senior Democratic aides indicated Friday that Republicans are not expected to block the measure from coming up, but they are concerned that GOP Senators will try to use the bill as a vehicle for their own agenda.

Republicans could offer amendments on repeal of the health care law or its tax components, or an extension of the tax cuts implemented under President George W. Bush.

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