A cornerstone of the Republican leadership's platform in 2010 was the promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as "Obamacare."
The House has now voted more than 30 times to repeal part or all of the law, most recently on July 11, 2012. Republican opponents of the law were newly fired up by the Supreme Court decision upholding it. They took their zeal to the House floor, where the repeal passed 244 to 185, with five Democrats joining Republicans in support of repeal.
But like every other attempt before it, this one is doomed in the Senate. Eight days after the House vote, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid blocked a repeal vote, which was offered by Republicans as an amendment to a jobs bill.
"The chances of (a repeal) passing the senate are zero. Sen. Reid will never bring it to the floor,” Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson told PolitiFact. "But in the Senate (unlike the House) there are things the minority can do to force votes on its priorities. So I can't say for certain it will never get a vote, but I can say for certain it will never pass. It has already failed here once.”
And even if a repeal bill did survive Congress, President Barack Obama would surely veto it.
Attempts at piecemeal repeal are similarly stalled. In March, House Republicans passed a bill aimed at limiting medical malpractice lawsuits that also included a repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, created by the health care law to limit Medicare spending. It's widely derided by Republicans, including Sarah Palin who famously dubbed it a "death panel.” That measure too is unlikely to get a hearing in the Senate -- let alone pass.
With the current makeup of Congress, the House GOP isn't getting anywhere trying to undo health care reform. We rate it a Promise Broken.
THOMAS, H.R. 6079, Repeal of Obamacare Act, introduced July 9, 2012
The Hill, "Reid blocks GOP amendment to repeal Affordable Care Act,” July 19, 2012
New York Times, "Repeal of Health Care Law Approved, Again, by House,” July 12, 2012, via Nexis
Email interview with Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Sen. Harry Reid, July 19, 2012
Email interview with Gail Wilensky, July 20, 2012
Full repeal seems unlikely
The last time we checked in on this promise, we noted that the U.S. House of Representatives had succeeded in passing a repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The measure passed largely along partisan lines, with three Democrats crossing the aisle on a 245 to 189 vote.
On Feb. 2, 2011, the Senate voted on an amendment proposed by Republican minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell to repeal the health care law. That failed on 47-51 vote along party lines.
Greta Van Susteren of Fox News interviewed McConnell shortly after the vote, asking his reaction.
"First, we promised the American people we would try to repeal it,” McConnell said. "The House passed the repeal. We came up short. It was a party line vote with every Republican voting to repeal. Now we go after it piece by piece. There are bills introduced to eliminate the mandate, the individual mandate. We know that's in court as well. There are bills giving states the option to pull out. So, we'll be offering other amendments as we move along to try to dismantle this.”
We should note that on Jan.26, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., introduced a stand-alone bill in the Senate, to repeal the law. All 47 Republican senators signed on as co-sponsors, but it has not received any action since its introduction.
It's clear from the Senate vote on McConnell"s amendment that Republicans likely will not achieve a straightforward full repeal of the health care law. But McConnell"s remarks indicate the Republicans aren"t done trying. So for now we rate this promise Stalled.
U.S. Senate, Amendment to repeal the job-killing health care law and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010,Feb. 2, 2011
U.S. House of Representatives,Final vote result, Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, Jan. 19, 2011
THOMAS, S 192, Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, introduced Jan. 26, 2011
Fox News, GOP Mulls Methodical Dismantling of 'Obamacare' After Senate Repeal Vote Fails, Feb. 3, 2011
House of Representatives passes repeal law
In one of the first votes of the new Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to repeal the health care law that Democrats passed last year. Wednesday's 245 to 189 vote was largely along partisan lines, with three Democrats crossing the aisle to vote with Republicans for the "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act."
"I just think it's time to listen to the American people and to do this the right way," said Speaker of the House John Boehner. "The Congress can do better in terms of replacing Obamacare with commonsense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance and expand access to more Americans."
To actually repeal the health care law, the bill would have to pass the Senate and be signed by the president. Democrats still control the Senate and have said they will not bring the bill up for a vote. And if it did pass, the White House has indicated President Obama would veto it. The bill would then require two-thirds majority votes in each chamber to pass. So it seems unlikely a full repeal will happen anytime soon.
Still, the House vote is a significant step and enough to move this to In the Works. We'll revisit our rating after we see how it's handled in the Senate.
U.S. House of Representatives, Final vote result, Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, Jan. 19, 2011
CQ Transcriptions, House Republicans press conference, Jan. 19, 2011, via Nexis