House Votes To Repeal Obama’s Healthcare Reform Law

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Media reports are casting the House vote to repeal the 2010 healthcare reform law as a political exercise that has virtually no chance of overcoming Democratic resistance in the Senate — much less escaping the President’s veto pen.

        The AP (1/20, Espo) says that Republicans were "honoring a campaign pledge." The tally, 245-189, "was largely along party lines, and cleared the way for the second phase of the ‘repeal and replace’ promise that victorious Republicans made to the voters last fall. GOP officials said that in the coming months, congressional committees will propose changes to the existing legislation, calling for elimination of a requirement for individuals to purchase coverage, for example, and recommending curbs on medical malpractice lawsuits."

ABC World News (1/19, story 4, 2:20, Sawyer) reported that "the Republicans who now control the House were keeping a promise and sending a message," while the CBS Evening News (1/19, story 3, 2:10, Cordes) noted that "Republicans will contend that this was absolutely not for show, that it was just the first step in their long-term effort to wipe this health care law off the books." Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) was shown saying, "Obamacare, as we know, is the crown jewel of socialism."

        In a story about a new NBC News/WSJournal poll, on NBC Nightly News (1/19, story 3, 2:10), Brian Williams reported that "the Republicans in the House pretty much straight up and down party line vote to repeal ‘Obamacare,’ knowing it’s dead on arrival in the Senate, where the Democrats run things." Brian later joked, "Darn news media have me saying Obamacare. I get letters every time I do that."

        Writing in the Huffington Post (1/20), Lucia Graves notes that the three Democrats who backed the repeal were Dan Boren (OK), Mike McIntyre (NC), and Mike Ross (AR). The Hill (1/20, Millman) reports in its "Healthwatch" blog, "Democratic support for the repeal measure fell far below the projections of some high-profile Republicans. Earlier this week, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) predicted this week that 15 Democrats would vote for repeal." Meanwhile, "earlier this month, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) predicted the repeal vote would gain some bipartisan backing."

        Reporting on the GOP’s "repeal and replace" strategy, the New York Times (1/20, A1, Herszenhorn, Pear) notes on its front page that "even as four House committees begin drafting legislation, Republicans said they would seek other ways to stop the overhaul, by choking off money needed to carry it out and by pursuing legislation to undo specific provisions, like a requirement for most Americans to carry health insurance or face penalties. The law is also under challenge in the federal courts."

Bloomberg News (1/20, Lerer, Armstrong) reports that Speaker Boehner (R-OH) "told reporters that a replacement plan would aim to ‘bring down the cost of health insurance for the American people and expand access.’"

        Moreover, the Los Angeles Times (1/20, Memoli) reports, "GOP leaders sought Wednesday to ramp up political pressure on the Senate to act." Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said, "I have a problem with the assumption here that somehow the Senate can be a place for legislation to go into a cul-de-sac or a dead-end. … The American people deserve a full hearing. They deserve to see this legislation go to the Senate for a full vote." McClatchy (1/20, Lightman) says that "Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) said the GOP will push for repeal despite the seemingly long odds, since Democrats control 53 of the 100 seats."

        The Washington Post (1/20, Sonmez, Fahrenthold) describes the debate and repeal vote as "a dress rehearsal for an entirely different discussion: not whether the bill should be repealed, but how it might be changed." The Post notes that "throughout Wednesday’s debate, some Republicans said that elements of the current law — such as a ban on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, or the ability for parents to keep young adult children on their insurance — might be included in a replacement bill they want to write." Democrats "also said they would be willing to change elements of the law," though "the two sides still seemed a long way from actual compromise."

Poll: Public Opposes Repeal 46%-45%. On NBC Nightly News (1/19, story 3, 2:10, Williams), Chuck Todd discussed the new NBC News/WSJournal poll, which found that "45% oppose repealing" the healthcare law, and "45% favor repealing it. And it is ideological. Democrats are against it, Republicans are for it. It really does split down the middle."

GOP To Target Any Federal Funding For Abortion In Health Law. Politico (1/20, Kliff) reports, "House Republicans will follow their health care law repeal vote with a more targeted attack: legislation to take down provisions that they contend allow for taxpayer funding of abortion." Politico adds that "anti-abortion legislators will introduce the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act as H.R. 3 on Thursday. The bill intends to prevent federal funding for abortion procedures by codifying the Hyde Amendment, which has long barred federal agencies from paying for abortions." However, "supporters of abortion rights have long argued that the health reform law does not allow for taxpayer funding of abortion and has the necessary safeguards to prevent public funds from being spent on the procedure."

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