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Health Care Issue Puts Spotlight on Joe Manchin

Tom Williams/Roll Call

Sen. Joe Manchin announced Friday that he will co-sponsor a bill that would repeal the health care reform law’s 1099 tax form provision, as Republicans begin to target him and other Senate Democrats for their stances on the health care law.

The West Virginia Democrat voted for a repeal of the provision Nov. 29, less than a month after he won a special election to serve for the next two years. Manchin, who is up for re-election to a full term in 2012, has vowed to eliminate other provisions in the law that he deems unacceptable. He is the only Democrat who has sponsored the bill offered by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.). The measure differs from a Democratic bill by Sen. Max Baucus (Mont.), and most Democrats agree the particular 1099 provision is repeal-worthy.

Manchin was one of 20 Democrats to vote for the unsuccessful repeal of the provision in November, 13 of whom are up for re-election in two years. Along with Manchin, they included Sens. Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Herb Kohl (Wis.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Jim Webb (Va.) and Jon Tester (Mont.).

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has signaled it will use the health care debate against Democrats in 2012. NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh said in a statement Thursday that Senate Democrats should reveal where they stand on GOP efforts to “repeal and replace” the health care law.

“Regardless, they should rest assured they will be held accountable for their votes in 2012,” he said.

Roll Call Politics rates Manchin’s re-election race as a Tossup.

Manchin said during his campaign last year that he would have voted against the health care package last year, but he has not indicated support for a full repeal. He famously called health care “Obamacare” in a campaign ad, which also featured footage of him shooting a rifle at “cap-and-trade.” But even if Manchin would support repeal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) maintains he will not bring such a bill to the floor of the Senate, even as the GOP-led House moves toward approving its own repeal bill.

“The health care bill is not going to be repealed,” Reid said Friday, shortly after the House passed a test vote on repealing the law.

In the House, four Democrats joined Republicans in Friday’s procedural vote, which sets up a final vote on repeal for Wednesday. They were Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Mike Ross (Ark.) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.).

All but Kissell represent districts carried in the 2008 presidential election by Sen. John McCain. Kissell’s Charlotte-area district, which runs along the South Carolina border, also gave 54 percent of the vote to President George W. Bush in 2004.

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