14

U.S. Senate nixes GOP health care repeal effort

The U.S. Senate today nixed Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and roll back last year’s health care reforms.

CNN explains how the vote actually worked:

The specific motion the Senate will vote on Wednesday involves a Democratic challenge to the Republican repeal amendment on the grounds that it would increase the federal deficit. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said the health care reform law will lower the deficit by $230 billion over 10 years, so Democrats argue that repealing it would increase the deficit.

By filing a budget point of order against the repeal amendment, Democrats will force Republicans to hold a vote on waiving the point of order to consider the amendment. That will require 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to pass, a threshold out of reach of the Republicans, who hold 47 seats.

The repeal amendment died on a 47-51, party-line vote.

But the Senate did agree, on a bipartisan 81-17 vote, to approve a Democratic amendment repealing part of the Affordable Care Act that requires companies to file a 1099 tax form for all goods and services valued at more than $600; it affects nearly 40 million self-employed workers, companies and charities, according to the IRS.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said:

“I am pleased that efforts to repeal the health reform law failed. This law may not be perfect, but overturning it would mean once again refusing insurance to anyone with a pre-existing condition, higher drug prices for seniors, and increasing the millions of Americans without health coverage.

“I pledge to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to improve this bill. Both sides agree that the onerous 1099 IRS reporting provision must go. I firmly believe we need a strong rate review authority to prevent unfair health insurance rate increases, which is why I have already introduced the Health Insurance Rate Review Act of 2011, to grant regulatory authority to reject unfair insurance premium hikes.

“The best solution is to repair, not repeal.”

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said:

“If Republicans had succeeded in repealing health care reform, nearly 450,000 California seniors would pay thousands of dollars more for their prescription drugs; small businesses nationwide would lose out on $40 billion in tax credits; children could be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition; and taxpayers would see the deficit increase by $230 billion over the next ten years and $1.3 trillion over the next two decades.

“Instead of fighting the old political battles of the past, Republicans should join us in improving health care reform – as we did today by reforming the 1099 reporting requirement. We should not go back to the days where 62 percent of all bankruptcies were linked to a health care crisis and 45,000 people a year died because they could not get access to health insurance.”

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said:

“The Senate Republicans promised the American people we would vote to repeal Obamacare, and we have done that. But this fight isn’t over. We intend to continue the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare with sensible reforms that would lower the cost of American health care, like medical malpractice, like selling insurance across state lines. This fight isn’t over, so I hope you’ll stay in the fight with us.”

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the Finance Committee’s ranking chairman, put it more forcefully:

“This budget-busting, unconstitutional $2.6 trillion health law must be repealed – it destroys jobs, increases health costs, raises taxes, and threatens liberty all in the name of one of the greatest expansions of federal power in our nation’s history. It’s not too late to fix this – we can and should start over on real reform that actually reduces health costs without the heavy hand of government.

“For two years, the American people and the people of my state of Utah were clear that they did not want this government takeover of health care. And once the White House and its Capitol Hill allies jammed it through using every budget gimmick and parliamentary trick in the book, the American people called on Congress to repeal it. The House heard that call and acted; and Senate Republicans have as well. Unfortunately, the majority in the Senate hasn’t gotten the message. This fight does not end today – we will use every tool available to tear down a law that is a threat to liberty itself.”

2

What they’re saying about Robert Byrd

U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., Congress’ longest-serving member ever, died early this morning at age 92.

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif:

Barbara Boxer“The Senate has lost a giant and America has lost a real fighter for our working families.

“Robert Byrd’s eloquence during his amazing tenure in the Senate will forever be a testament to his deep reverence for the Constitution and the importance of preserving the American dream, which he lived.

“I will always be grateful for Senator Byrd’s strong support for California – especially when our state was suffering through natural disasters – as well as his deep conviction to bring our troops home from Iraq.”

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“This is a very sad day. Robert C. Byrd was one of the true legends of United States political history and his passing is an enormous loss. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his two daughters, Mona Fatemi and Marjorie Moore; to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and to the people of West Virginia.

“Senator Byrd represented the State of West Virginia in the United States Senate for 51 years, and also served six years in the House of Representatives. He very much loved the Senate, and was its longest serving member. His scholarly insights on the Senate’s history, customs and sometimes intricate rules were second to none. And he was a staunch defender of the prerogatives of the three equal branches of government. Senator Byrd, like the nation he represented, changed and evolved over the nine decades of his lifetime.

“Senator Byrd was well-known for his booming, fiery speeches on the floor of the Senate, but he was also a sensitive man who cherished his friends and colleagues, especially the late Ted Kennedy. He was also fond of classical history and poetry, and frequently interspersed his remarks with passages of ancient political philosophers or poetic verse.

“I shall perhaps remember Senator Byrd best for his ardent devotion to and consummate knowledge of the Constitution of the United States. I also had the privilege of serving with him on the Senate Appropriations Committee for many years.

“This nation owes Senator Byrd a great debt of gratitude for his tremendous service. I know that I will very much miss his indomitable spirit, insightful guidance, and intense commitment to the Senate.”

More, after the jump…
Continue Reading