House Republicans set Jan. 12 vote on repeal of health-care law

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 4, 2011

House Republicans have set Jan. 12 as their day to vote on a repeal of President Obama's health-care law, after a midterm election in which they campaigned against the landmark legislation as a government takeover of the health industry.

The announcement Monday sets up the attempted repeal of the law as the first significant action by House Republicans in the 112th Congress. With 242 members on their side, Republicans expect to pass the legislation easily, but they privately acknowledge that the measure faces a high hurdle in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

"Obamacare is a job-killer for businesses small and large, and the top priority for House Republicans is going to be to cut spending and grow the economy and jobs," Brad Dayspring, spokesman for incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), said in a statement.

The repeal legislation will be a brief document that simply revokes the law. Obama signed the measure in March after a legislative battle that lasted nearly a year and proved politically bruising. Democrats have since suggested that it was worth the fallout.

Although many Democrats distanced themselves from the legislation during the November elections, some liberals want to use this next phase as a chance to reframe the debate in their favor, particularly as the effects of the legislation begin to kick in this year.

"Republicans want another debate about health-care reform? Well, so should Democrats. They beat us in round one with lies and scare tactics. We welcome a second shot," said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.).

And Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the outgoing speaker, said in a post on Twitter, "While Dems are focused on job creation, GOP is fast-tracking repealing patients' rights & Rx help for seniors."

GOP leaders often advanced a "repeal and replace" theme during the 2010 campaign. A day after Republicans won control of the House in November, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who will replace Pelosi as speaker, signaled a slow approach to the repeal by saying that Republicans must "lay the groundwork before we begin to repeal this monstrosity."

Instead, they will pass their repeal legislation a week after the start of the new Congress.

A key element of the legislation, the mandate that all individuals buy health insurance, will not take effect until 2014. Other portions took effect Saturday, with the dawn of the new year, including one that provides discounts to Medicare beneficiaries for the purchase of prescription drugs - covering what is commonly known as the system's "doughnut hole."

In a Monday letter to Boehner signaling that they have no intention to consider the repeal, Senate Democrats cited a repair of that hole as a key provision that must be allowed to take effect. "This proposal deserves a chance to work. It is too important to be treated as collateral damage in a partisan mission to repeal health care," Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) and other Senate Democratic leaders wrote.

That sets up a likely showdown over the funding of some of the provisions, including money that would need to be allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies to fund the legislation's implementation.

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