WASHINGTON (AP) — Pressing an election-year point, Republicans pushed yet another bill through the House on Wednesday to repeal the nation’s two-year-old health care law, a maneuver that forced Democrats to choose between President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement and a public that is persistently skeptical of its value.
The vote was 244-185, with five Democrats defectors siding with Republicans.
By Republican count, the vote marked the 33rd time in 18 months that the tea party-infused GOP majority has tried to eliminate, defund or otherwise scale back the program — opponents scornfully call it “Obamacare” — since Republicans took control of the House.
Repeal this year by Congress is doomed, since the Democratic-controlled Senate will never agree.
But Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam said before joining other Republicans in Wednesday’s House vote: “Here’s the good news. The voters get the last word in November. Stay tuned.”
Nor was the vote in the House the only act of political theater during the day as campaign concerns increasingly crowded out bipartisan attempts at law-making in the Capitol.
One day after a campaigning Obama called on Congress to pass his proposal to extend tax cuts on all but the highest wage earners, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky offered to allow an immediate vote. “I can’t see why Democrats wouldn’t want to give him the chance” to sign the bill, he said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., countered by blocking an immediate vote. “We’ll get to the tax issues. That way we’ll be able to talk in more detail about Governor Romney’s taxes,” he said in a reference to Democratic campaign attacks on the GOP presidential candidate’s overseas investment, the relatively low rate of income tax he is required to pay and his refusal thus far to release personal tax returns dating before 2010.
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