The Senate will vote on a repeal of the healthcare law on Wednesday despite the Senate majority leader vowing a vote would not occur.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would offer the healthcare reform repeal as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. McConnell said it not only would give Democrats the chance to change their vote when they first voted in favor of the legislation.
“For all those who support the health law, it’s an opportunity to re-evaluate your vote,” he said on the Senate floor. “To listen to your constituents who are desperately trying to get your attention. You can say, ‘Perhaps this was a mistake. We can do this better.’ Or you can continue to dismiss the majority of the people in this country as not knowing what they’re talking about. It’s not every day that you can get a second chance on a big decision after you know all the facts.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid originally said he would not bring the repeal legislation to the floor, but said he would allow it as an amendment because Republicans did not filibuster the motion to proceed for the FAA bill. Democrats have said the FAA bill would be the first legislation of 2011 that would help create jobs so they wanted to get it passed as soon as they could.
“We want to have a debate on aviation transportation,” Reid said. “But the Republicans obviously want to do something on healthcare. And so we want to get this out – we want to get this out of their system very quickly.”
Reid also said even though the amendment would be attached to the bill, he did not expect it to pass. Democrats planned to raise a budget point-of-order objection to the amendment by citing a Congressional Budget Office estimate that repeal would increase the deficit by $230 billion. In order to overcome that hurdle Republicans would need 60 votes – meaning they would need at least 13 Democrats to join them.
Democratic defections – or at least the number needed to overcome the objection and ultimately pass the amendment – were not expected. Republicans have said they hoped a few of the newly elected Democratic senators, such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and some of the Democrats up for re-election in 2012 would join in their efforts for repeal.
Manchin has been vocal about opposing parts of the law, such as the individual mandate, but unfortunately for Republicans he told The Hill newspaper that he would not support repeal of the legislation.
“Sen. Manchin strongly believes that the healthcare law needs to be repaired,” communications director Emily Bittner said. “Sen. Manchin also believes that it doesn’t make common sense to throw out the good parts of this bill, so his priority is to make every effort to repair the bill before we start talking about repeal.”
Montana Sen. Jon Tester is one of the Democrats up for re-election in 2012 who also has expressed oppositions to some pieces of the law and whom Republicans hoped would join them in repealing it; however, he also is not expected to support repealing the law in its entirety.
“[He] will continue to work to find ways to improve the health insurance reform law – like voting to repeal the 1099 provision – but he will not vote to repeal the overall bill, because repeal would add $230 billion to our national debt and because repeal would mean many Montanans would not be able to get coverage due to pre-existing conditions and seniors would continue struggling to pay for much-needed prescription drugs,” spokeswoman Andrea Helling said.
The 1099 provision is an accounting part of the law where businesses have to file tax documents on all cumulative purchases of more than $600. Businesses have said it was a burdensome aspect of the law and it is one item Republicans, Democrats and President Barack Obama have agreed could be gotten rid of.
In that regard, the Senate also is expected to vote on two amendments to repeal the 1099 tax provision. One is from Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) that would repeal the entire requirement and would be paid for by asking the Office of Management and Budget to use unspent federal stimulus money. The other amendment is from Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), which is similar to Johanns’s but also would prohibit the OMB from cutting Medicare, the Social Security Administration and its benefits, and the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
Regardless on what happens with the healthcare reform law repeal vote in the Senate, though, President Obama would be expected to veto the legislation.
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