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Obamacare repeal passes House but unlikely to get through Senate

07-12-2012 10:27 BJT

by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, July 11 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 244-185 in favor of repealing President Barack Obama's health care law in what experts said was largely a symbolic move, as the measure is unlikely to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The vote marks the 33rd time House lawmakers have held a vote on the so-called Obamacare to defund or scrap the controversial law, which is hailed by Democrats and slammed by Republicans.

"For those who still support repealing this harmful healthcare law, we're giving our colleagues in the Senate another chance to heed the will of the American people," said House speaker John Boehner.

The vote came on the heels of last month's Supreme Court decision to uphold the law and impose a tax on individuals who fail to purchase health care coverage.

Some have blasted House Republicans for engaging in what has been derided as a publicity stunt amid a floundering economy and high jobless rate, as GOP lawmakers know the repeal has little chance of passing the Senate.

Darrell M. West, vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said as long as Democrats control the Senate, Republicans will not be able to repeal Obama's signature piece of legislation and primary first-term achievement.

But that may not keep them from trying. Indeed, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said last month that his party would push for a Senate vote on repealing the law before November's presidential election and use a legislative loophole known as "reconciliation," which would allow a majority to pass a repeal instead of the usual 60 votes in the 100-member body.

Democrats used the same tool to pass the legislation two years ago, and McConnell blasted them for doing so.

The Senator and other Republicans have lampooned the law for what they say is a middle class tax hike for its provision that requires most people to buy health coverage by 2014 or be slapped with a fee. Democrats say the law will cover millions of previously uninsured Americans.

The Obama administration and Democrats are avoiding the term "tax" despite last week's Supreme Court decision that ruled the law was constitutional under Congress' power to tax.

GALVANIZING THE BASE

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said the move is geared toward galvanizing the GOP base, and contended that Republicans have also set their sights on independents, pointing to last week's Gallup poll that found a 13-percentage point majority of independents think the law will hurt the economy.

And with economic issues topping voters' concerns, it is crucial that Republicans tie their anti-Obamacare arguments to the faltering economy. They must convince independents that the law is a "jobs killer" as they have claimed, analysts said.

That is especially important at a time when many voters know little about the law, as many of its provisions do not kick in until a couple of years down the road, analysts said.

With Republicans' renewed attention toward Obamacare, some experts say the party may be taking its eye off the ball amid a flagging economy in which jobs top voters' concerns.

John Fortier, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Democracy Project, said that if Republicans ignore the economic issue to just talk about health care it would be a mistake, but it is likely they will connect the healthcare debate to the country's sluggish economy.

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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