House Votes To Repeal ObamaCare For The 33rd Time

The House engaged in a mostly pointless action yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives followed up on a promise made after the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act and voted to repeal the bill for what amounts to the 33rd time:

The House voted again Wednesday to repeal President Obama’s healthcare law, a largely symbolic gesture that gave Republicans some revenge against the Supreme Court ruling that declared the law constitutional.

Republicans also see it as a way to motivate their base this fall as they fight to keep control of the lower chamber, win the Senate and take the White House.

Members approved the repeal legislation on a 244-185 vote, after five hours of debate that stretched over two days.

Five Democrats, most of them facing tough reelection bids, supported the repeal effort alongside the GOP, prompting the Republican National Committee (RNC) to declare the result “bipartisan.”

The repeal effort will likely die in the Democratic-controlled Senate, but the Republican minority there is working to force a vote, hoping to put vulnerable Democrats on the record before November.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed to push for a repeal vote against the “worst piece of legislation … in modern times.”

McConnell’s efforts will be for naught, of course, because Harry Reid won’t allow the bill to even get to the floor for a vote, where it would die at the Cloture Vote stage if it did anyway. If the GOP continues to force his hand on the issue, Reid can simply bring the bill up for a Motion to Table, which only requires a simple majority and cannot be filibustered under Senate rules, and the bill will die. But, of course, this vote wasn’t about putting forward a piece of legislation, it was about scoring a political point and reminding voters, yet again, that the GOP really, really, really doesn’t like ObamaCare. While I understand that desire somewhat, I have to wonder what the point is of doing something that you know isn’t going to go anywhere not once, not twice, but thirty-three times. Is there someone in America who they’re afraid might think the GOP is in favor of the law? Well, I don’t think they have to worry about that, because its been eminently clear for the past two years, and everyone knows that electing Mitt Romney and giving the GOP the Senate means, most likely that the bill, or at least the major parts of it like the mandate, will be repealed.

Already some Republicans are wondering what all of this has accomplished:

In a sign that the politics surrounding the law may have shifted a degree since the court ruling, some Republicans are emphasizing the need to quickly find other ways to implement those popular aspects of the measure, even as they insisted that it must be repealed in its entirety.

“As a doctor, I fully endorse — and as a Republican, I fully endorse — the goals of the 2010 health law,” Rep. Nan A.S. Hayworth (N.Y.), an ophthalmologist, said on Tuesday. “Every American should have access to good, affordable health care and affordable, portable health insurance.”

In moderate New Hampshire, Rep. Charles F. Bass (R) indicated that he wants to find a way to allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health-care plans and to prevent insurance companies from barring those with preexisting conditions from buying coverage.

Rep. Frank C. Guinta (R-N.H.) said he is “ready to sit down with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle and health-care community members to amend this law as needed.”

Another Republican House member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely describe the thinking of GOP colleagues, said: “There are more voices now saying we’ve got to have something to replace the law with, and some substance to the replacement, because that’s what they’re hearing back home, because that’s what the other side hits us on. There are stronger calls for that within the conference.”

There’s also the small fact that there are real issues facing Congress that have to be dealt with this year. Specifically, of course, there’s the so-called “Fiscal Cliff” — the expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts combined with sequestration, the end of the Payroll Tax holiday, the Medicare “Doc Fix,” and the probable need to raise the debt ceiling no later than early 2013 — that needs to be dealt with before the end of the year. There are budgets that need to be passed for each of the branches of government before the end of the Fiscal Year (like that’s actually going to happen, repeat after me: Continuing Resolution).  Instead of moving on to that, though, the next vote after ObamaCare repeal yesterday afternoon was to rename a Post Office. Nice to see you keeping up with the hard work there, guys.

Obviously, I don’t expect much substantive work to be done, Congress is simply too polarized for that and Election Years seldom see Congress do anything major in terms of legislation. Historically, each side uses the pre-election period for strategic votes that will allow them to score political points during the campaign. That’s the way things have worked in Washington for decades, so its no surprise that the House GOP is doing it now. I just don’t know what they need to do it thirty-three times.

FILED UNDER: Congress, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Chad S says:

    40 times and all of congress gets a free toaster.

  2. Moosebreath says:

    “Already some Republicans are wondering what all of this has accomplished”

    And yet, none of the Republicans quoted thought that this was futile enough not to vote for the resolution. I suspect if there were a dozen or so Republicans abstaining, it would send a better message to Speaker Boehner, et al, to stop wasting everybody’s time on something like this and get down to some real work.

  3. Hello World! says:

    With Republicans in control of the house, I am in full support of them taking meaningless votes that can’t do any harm to the country. I hope they waist time for the next 45 days they are in session.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    That’s the way things have worked in Washington for decades, so its no surprise that the House GOP is doing it now. I just don’t know what they need to do it thirty-three times.

    Close the doors, turn out the lights.

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Repetition is the mother of all learning.

  6. al-Ameda says:

    Rep. Frank C. Guinta (R-N.H.) said he is “ready to sit down with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle and health-care community members to amend this law as needed.”

    Does anyone with red blood cells and a pulse believe that statement?

  7. LaMont says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Naw, I think the following applies better;

    “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.”

    Yep, perfect!

  8. Jay_Dubbs says:

    My mother always said, if at first you don’t succeed…but even she would find this ridiculous.

  9. Gustopher says:

    So, what was the post office renamed from/to?

  10. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I’ve been wondering for a while if the pejorative “ObamaCare” is going to backfire on the GOP in the long run. How much harder would it have been for the GOP to regain traction in the 70s and 80s if everyone 65+ was getting their “FDRCheck” every month and paying $2 copays for major medical procedures under JohnsonCare?

  11. legion says:

    @Moosebreath:

    And yet, none of the Republicans quoted thought that this was futile enough not to vote for the resolution.

    Or offer even the slightest idea of anything to replace it with. Even many Republicans seem to be recognizing that people want/need a lot of the things the ACA does; they just can’t stomach the mandate that pays for it. But they can’t even bring themselves to propose other ways to do those things. These people are children.

  12. Rob in CT says:

    Clowns, providing theatre for children.

  13. Dave Schuler says:

    If Congress were to limit its actions to things that were meaningful, they’d spend one month a year in Washington. Not that that would be a bad thing.

  14. Herb says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    “Repetition is the mother of all learning. “

    Yeah, cuz in Zombieland everyone’s stupid.

    Meanwhile, the Republican strategy on healthcare is not only smart, but successful.

    Oh wait……it’s been nothing but stupid (death panels, get the gubmint out of my medicare) and ineffective (couldn’t stop it being passed, signed, and upheld…unable to push through a repeal dozens of times).

    I know team loyalty is a “thing,” but I also think sooner or later, results matter. A couple years ago, the Lions were the worst team in NFL history. I fully expected true-blue fans to watch every game.

    But only the idiots thought they’d be Super Bowl bound…..

  15. I heard on the radio today that a new poll shows California voters (a) giving Congress even lower approval ratings, and (b) shifting from a trust in split government to a belief that Congress and the President should be of the same party.

    So maybe THAT is the public feedback on 33 pointless votes.

  16. SKI says:

    Let’s see… PPACA passed in late March 2010. That was about 110 weeks ago. They have called for 33 votes. That is about 1 vote every 3.33 weeks or roughly 24 days. That is nuts except that it is even worse.

    Let’s remember that the House didn’t return to GOP control until January 2011 and I’ve got to believe Pelosi wasn’t scheduling repeal votes. That lowers the period to about 78 weeks. When we strip out recess time we get closer to 70 weeks – with a typical “work week” of four days (being generous), that is a repeal vote every 8.5 days!

    And that doesn’t strip out the numerous “constituent” weeks (9 in 2011 alone) there no votes are held…

  17. gVOR08 says:

    Jobs, jobs, jobs.

  18. rudderpedals says:

    The GOP is simply running out the clock. There’s a graphic going around comparing the 33 futile votes against the one or no votes taken on jobs bills.

  19. Racehorse says:

    With all of the back and forth on this health care plan issue between the Democrats and Republicans (both have good ideas, both have bad ideas), I have thought up an ideal solution that will make both parties happy. Over the last several weeks, it has become more apparent to me that the problem is that this issue should not have been left to politicians, lawyers, and judges (Judge Roberts). When you have people like Pelosi (“I’ll read it after I vote on it”) involved, you have the makings for a disaster and will actually make the health problems worse in this country. Here is my plan:
    A committee/ study group will be formed with the task of coming up with a new health plan. This group will be made up of doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, hospital employees such as cooks, janitors, etc., business and financial people, and some regular working people such as construction workers and policeman. You send them to a resort for a weekend loaded with great food. They have 3 days to come up with a plan. Sorry: politicians, lawyers, and judges will sit this one out, That is what is wrong with the president’s plan now: designed by career politicians and lawyers. After 3 days, the committee will hand the plan to the president and Pelosi and say: “here is the health plan of the people!” A plan that makes sense, doesn’t raise taxes, and doesn’t close down small businesses. A plan that allows people to pick their doctors and health care options.
    Easy as that! Now what are your ideas?

  20. Herb says:

    @Racehorse:

    “Easy as that! Now what are your ideas?”

    Only one, and it’s not even really an idea, just a comment.

    It will never be as easy as that……

  21. @Racehorse:

    Another headline I saw today was that Americans are tired of it. We have a health care law, thy are ready to let it take effect.

  22. wr says:

    @Racehorse: ” Now what are your ideas? ”

    That as much as I enjoyed your application to take over Tom Friedman’s column, he’s not going to leave the Times until he’s dead.

  23. Racehorse says:

    @john personna: “I’ll read it after I vote for it” Pelosi

  24. Fog says:

    @Racehorse. I’d get the same guy from MIT who developed RomneyCare and have him and his team do it. After all, they did pretty well in Massachusetts. Oh, wait…

  25. al-Ameda says:

    @Fog:

    @Racehorse. I’d get the same guy from MIT who developed RomneyCare and have him and his team do it. After all, they did pretty well in Massachusetts. Oh, wait…

    California moved to set-up for implementation of ACA back in 2009, Republican Governor Schwarzenegger called in Romney’s Massachusetts team to advise them. This ifrom the SF Chronicle a few days ago:

    California officials are moving quickly to deliver services to millions of people as a result of crucial legislation signed two years ago by former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    Here’s the twist: Schwarzenegger consulted with advisers to Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and presumptive GOP presidential nominee, before signing a package of seven health care bills after Congress passed the federal Affordable Care Act.

    Among other things, the 2010 legislation made California the first state to establish a health insurance exchange aimed at giving residents more affordable choices. Now, residents of California – home to 7 million uninsured people, more than any other state – are expected to be able to sign up for health care coverage beginning in October 2013.

    Daniel Zingale, who as a senior aide to Schwarzenegger was deeply involved in the process, said, “We flew (Romney’s) people out here and we learned a lot from them” in developing what would become the foundation of the state’s key health care reforms.

    “I genuinely believe that California will benefit hugely from its implementation,” said Zingale, now a senior vice president of Healthy California, part of the California Endowment, a statewide health foundation.

  26. G.A. says:

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.”

    Exactly, expressing the will of the people to the democrats over and over,is insanity…

  27. anjin-san says:

    A committee/ study group will be formed with the task of coming up with a new health plan.

    Ah. A blue ribbon commission. Because that has always worked so well in the past.

  28. Racehorse says:

    @anjin-san: This would be different. I can’t remember any committees in Washington that included a lot of ordinary, working class people. If there have been, I would like to know. What we don’t need is a bill that runs 2,000 pages or more and is written in legalese that the middle class working people don’t understand.

  29. SKI says:

    @Racehorse: The reality is that such a group (and they have existed) would come up with an incredibly similar plan to PPACA or propose single payor. There aren’t a whole lot of other options to get to universal coverage without going full-blown NIH (which pretty much no one is proposing).

  30. al-Ameda says:

    @Racehorse:

    A committee/ study group will be formed with the task of coming up with a new health plan.

    Like Simpson/Bowles?

    Seriously, we could look forward to the fight over who would be appointed to this committee/study group – Republicans would favor people opposed to any public option for health insurance reform, and Democrats would favor those who rationally think that a single-payer health insurance system is the solution.

    Republicans are not interested in any solution that is not theirs – of course the fact that the insurance mandate is a Republican idea does not guarantee that they like their own ideas (at least not when adopted by Democrats.)

  31. john personna says:

    Racehorse is a guy asking for 5 out of 7, after losing 3 out of 5.

    Of course he wants a committee .. or Martians .. anything but pending law.

  32. Scott F. says:

    @Racehorse: I remember when Clinton had a go at healthcare reform at the beginning of his first term. In advance of the efforts to craft the legislation, Clinton held a very public series of focus group meetings where he gathered business leaders, doctors, patients, etc., to share their views on what was wrong with the US system and what might be done to improve it. A great deal of that input went into what is now derisively called HillaryCare.

    Turns out that solving healthcare in the US is extraordinarily complicated, especially when you make an effort address everyone’s concerns. Clinton’s healthcare reform was mercilessly killed, mostly for being too complicated. Appears it is really hard to sell complex solutions while it is remarkably easy to demagogue about socialism.

  33. Racehorse says:

    @al-Ameda: The committee members could be chosen through some sort of lottery arrangement. Maybe that would avoid the political favoritism. Some famous athlete would make a good chairman.

  34. al-Ameda says:

    @Racehorse:
    At this point I would trust only Uwe Reinhardt, a professor of political economy at Princeton, and a person who has studied health economics, healthcare insurance and medical delivery systems in America and in other countries. I would appoint people like him.

    Congress should be kept as far from crafting of the legislation as possible.

  35. Mr. Replica says:

    If the Republican party regains a super majority, I would not expect anything to be passed after the repeal of the PPACA. The Republican party has a history in regards to healthcare reform and that history provides little evidence they are willing to act at the federal level.
    The republicans in Congress(and Romney) can say all they want about “Repeal and Replace”, but in the end, they will certainly kowtow to their base. A base that feels that this issue should be dealt with at the state level.

    Even tho Gov. Romney has a history of advocating what he did in Massachusetts as a blue print for healthcare reform, he has since done an almost complete 180 on the matter. Gov. Romney has done all he can to be on the opposite side of President Obama on this (and every) issue, even if that meant shedding all prior beliefs and stances. The Gov. has done this in hopes of showing his potential base that he in fact not a RINO.

    I can not see Romney turning his back on those he has fought so hard to convince. Nor can I see a majority of republican legislatures doing the same.
    Which leads me to believe that not only will this country be back at square one in regards to reform, but that nothing will be brought up in Congress to fix the issue.

  36. wr says:

    @Racehorse: “What we don’t need is a bill that runs 2,000 pages or more and is written in legalese that the middle class working people don’t understand.”

    Yes, there’s certainly no reason for a law to be written in legalese. Except, you know, that it’s a law and thus needs to be.

  37. KariQ says:

    @Racehorse:

    The committee members could be chosen through some sort of lottery arrangement. Maybe that would avoid the political favoritism. Some famous athlete would make a good chairman.

    You really think that a bunch of people chosen randomly, chaired by an athlete with no evident knowledge of or expertise in health care would be a good way to change our health care system?

    Ooooookay. Glad this ain’t got a snowball’s chance in Death Valley of ever happening.