Page 3 of 3   <      

House votes to repeal health-care law

Swiftly honoring a campaign pledge, Republicans pushed legislation to repeal the nation's year-old health care overhaul through the House Wednesday, brushing aside opposition in the Senate and a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

"The Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it--believed it and you have the Holocaust," Cohen said.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on Wednesday called the health care overhaul "the crown jewel of socialism." And a handful of members of both parties used heated rhetoric in charging that the health care overhaul would "kill jobs" -- or that its repeal would result in "killing Americans."

Wednesday's floor debate was a chance for both sides to try out the arguments they are likely to use in this year's longer debate, as Congress considers changing or eliminating the healthcare legislation one piece at a time.

Republicans largely used their floor remarks to tie the health care law to the economy, arguing that the health care overhaul will do away with fiscal discipline through increased spending and higher taxes, cost the country jobs and create economic uncertainty.

Some lawmakers went further, arguing that the law itself is unconstitutional, would overextend the reach of government and would allow for taxpayer-funded abortions, even though Democrats say that is not the case.

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), a prominent conservative who is mulling a bid for president or governor, said that with Wednesday's vote, House Republicans "are going to stand with the American people and vote to repeal their government takeover of health care lock, stock and barrel."

"Now I know the other side and some liberals in the media don't like us using that term -- government takeover of health care -- but let me break it down for you: When you mandate that every American purchase health insurance whether they want it or need it or not ... and you throw in public funding of abortion against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the American people, that's a government takeover of health care and the American people know it," Pence said in his floor remarks.

In the battle of constituent anecdotes, Republicans told stories about small businessmen worried about the bill's costs. Democrats, on the other hand, talked about patients: people who would get help paying for pre-natal care, or the treatment of cancer or other diseases.

At one point, Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) sparred over how women would be affected by a repeal of the health care law.

"Thanks to the new law, women do not have to worry anymore about being treated as second-class citizens or about being discriminated against for being a woman," Slaughter said, arguing that the health care law made it illegal for insurance companies to charge women higher premiums and would require that insurers provide coverage for victims of domestic violence.

Blackburn shot back that the health care overhaul would make it "more difficult for women under the age of 50 and over the age of 75 to get mammograms."

"One of our primary concerns with this legislation was the way in which women would be adversely impacted," Blackburn said, adding that "we need this bill off the books."

<          3

© 2011 The Washington Post Company