But while these and other scenarios have little chance of success, they would provide Republicans with potentially valuable political fodder to use against Democrats during next year’s elections. Republicans could accuse Democrats of stifling debate, and they could offer the votes of moderate Democrats like Sen. Jim Webb (Va.) as evidence of renewed support for the health care law.
Although Republicans insisted that the repeal vote is a political winner for the GOP, House Democrats were not willing to cede any ground.
“I think the vote is good for us because we’re defending things that people want,” Chief Deputy Whip Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said Wednesday.
“The Republicans are running against an abstraction,” he added. “Obamacare abstractly means big government, but when you look behind the curtain and see that it’s health care until you’re 26 and health care for seniors, people say that’s good, we want it.”
Even Democrats who voted against the bill last year largely rejected the repeal measure as inappropriate.
Of the Members who opposed the health care bill and are still in Congress — Reps. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), John Barrow (D-Ga.), Dan Boren (D-Okla.), Ben Chandler (D-Ky.), Tim Holden (D-Pa.), Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) — only Boren, McIntyre and Ross voted for the repeal bill Wednesday.
Before the vote on the repeal, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) broke with much of his Caucus when he voted against a motion to recommit the measure.
The motion would have added language keeping the repeal from going into effect unless a majority of House and Senate lawmakers declined enrollment in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which insures Members. Some Democrats had hoped the motion would draw attention to Republicans who support repealing the health care overhaul while enjoying their own generous insurance benefits.
According to Hoyer spokesman Dan Reilly, the Maryland Democrat’s support for the health care overhaul meant he could not support the motion to recommit. “Mr. Hoyer strongly supports the Affordable Care Act, and there are no conditions under which he would support repeal going forward,” Reilly said Wednesday night.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.