The Senate Democrats voted in a bloc against the repeal of ObamaCare, putting those members up for reelection in 2012 in a more vulnerable position politically. In an attempt at political cover, the Democrats voted in favor of repealing the law’s 1099 provision, which has overburdened small businesses.
The “McConnell Amendment,” which is the House-passed legislation for ObamaCare repeal, failed by a vote of 47 to 51 this evening. Senators Mark Warner (D.-Va.) and Joe Lieberman (I.-Conn.) did not vote.
“We promised the American people we would have a vote in the Senate to repeal ObamaCare. We just had that vote. Every single Republican voted to repeal. Every single Democrat voted to retain to the 2,700-page Washington takeover of our health care,” said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) at a press conference after the vote.
During much of the vote, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) and McConnell stood alone in the center aisle talking. McConnell’s arms were crossed during most of their conversation, and Reid attempted to walk away several times.
Immediately following the vote, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) sent out 12 separate press releases targeting the most vulnerable Democrats in 2012 for their vote against repealing ObamaCare.
“As they prepare to face voters in 2012, Senate Democrats will have a very tough time explaining why they once again chose to prioritize President Obama’s costly, unpopular health care overhaul over the best interests of seniors and small businesses in their states,” said NRSC Communications Director Brian Walsh.
The press releases were sent to the media and grassroots groups in the states of these Democrats: Jon Tester (Mont.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Jim Webb (Va.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.), Herb Kohl (Wis.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Joe Manchin (W. Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), and Jeff Bingaman (N.M.).
The releases were similar to this one sent to groups in Missouri. “Just two days after a second federal judge struck down the Democrats’ costly, unpopular health care overhaul as ‘unconstitutional,’ liberal U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D.-Mo.) voted to oppose repealing the law, preserving its individual mandate, $500 billion in Medicare cuts, and $570 billion in tax hikes.”
Walsh also said, “Whatever election-cycle posture they adopt in the wake of this vote, it’s clear that voters will hold these and other Democrats accountable at the polls next year.”
Reid surrendered to McConnell’s demand that the Senate vote on ObamaCare repeal only after a Florida court ruled on Monday that the health care law was unconstitutional.
McConnell took to the Senate floor this morning to put pressure on the Democrats—who jammed the bill through on Christmas Eve a year ago—to now vote to repeal it.
“The case against this bill is more compelling every day. Everything we learn tells us it was a bad idea, that it should be repealed and replaced. The courts say so. The American people say so. Job creators say so,” said McConnell. “It’s time for those who passed this bill to show that they’ve noticed.”
The Democrats spent the day on the Senate floor trying to defend their beloved health care law, saying it does everything from lowering the deficit (by not spending $1.2 trillion?) to improving patient care (by the government taking over your health care?).
At one point, Reid spoke on the floor using fictitious poll numbers. “Republicans are fighting to repeal the health reform law, ignoring the 80% of Americans who want them to leave it alone,” he said.
Reid did not cite the source for his 80% statistic, but other polls put the number of Americans who are against repealing at 40% (Gallup) to 42% (CNN).
Also this evening, the Senate passed a repeal of the section of ObamaCare that burdens small businesses with filing excessive 1099 tax forms. The vote for the amendment, sponsored by Stabenow, was 81 to 17. The House Ways and Means Committee will craft a similar bill, then the two chambers will work out a coordinated resolution to send to President Obama.
Although Reid scheduled the 1099 repeal passage as political cover for the vulnerable Democrats who were going to vote against full repeal, the vote was indicative of the larger failure of the law.
Less than a year after it went into effect, the Democrats have been forced to pass legislation to fix the job-killing bill that they jammed through.
“There is a victory today that we celebrate—to get rid of the 1099 requirement,” said McConnell after the vote. “So we’ve at least rolled back one of the egregious features of many in a 2,700 page law.”
The Democrats’ insincerity in wanting to repeal the 1099 burden was evident in that they actually stole their legislation from the Republicans.
Sen. Mike Johanns (R.-Neb.) spent almost a year pushing for repeal of the 1099 tax paperwork mandate. Last week, he announced that he had finally gotten 60 co-sponsors, enough to ensure passage of his bill.
Then this week, the Democrats took Johnanns’ amendment, changed six words, and introduced it as the “Stabenow Amendment.”
“It really is the same amendment,” Johanns said at a press conference after the vote. “I’m actually kinda flattered.”
“It turns out Sen. Johanns did such an outstanding job raising awareness about the 1099 requirement that Democrats took the idea and are now claiming it as their own,” said McConnell, mocking the Democrats’ plagiarism. “It’s not a bad precedent actually. We’ve got a lot of other good ideas that we’d be happy to share.”
McConnell also said after the vote that “this is just the beginning” of the Republicans efforts to repeal, defund, and replace ObamaCare.