Can I laugh now or later?
Republican efforts to repeal the health care reform law died a quick death in the Senate Wednesday, with a united Democratic caucus voting down a GOP repeal bill that cleared the House last month.
A procedural vote ended the repeal effort, 47-51, as expected. Democrats framed the Republican amendment as an attempt to take health benefits away from Americans.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed the amendment – the repeal bill the House passed last month – to the Federal Aviation Administration’s reauthorization bill. He called the vote an opportunity for health reform supporters to say, “yes, maybe my vote for this bill was a mistake, and that we can do better.”
Just holding the vote is a victory for Republicans: McConnell managed to bring it to the floor of a Democrat-controlled senate. And some moderate Democrats, who voted against the health law last year, are now on the record with a vote in favor of President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.
The country is relatively split in its support for the law, particularly in states where moderate Democrats have to face reelection in 2012.
Republicans hope that support for the law erodes further, forcing Democrats to reconsider their support for health reform.
Democrats put up a budget point of order, a procedural tool designed to highlight the fact that repeal would add about $230 billion to the deficit, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates. Republicans have strongly objected to the figure, arguing that the reform law would add to the deficit.
McConnell has promised that he will force numerous votes against the health care reform law.