Senate fails to repeal health care law

The U.S. Senate failed to repeal the nation’s health care law but gave Republicans a chance to go on record with their objections to the sweeping measure that requires all Americans to have insurance.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., forced the party-line vote by attaching the House-passed repeal bill to a pending measure on aviation issues. All 47 GOP senators voted for repeal, but Democrats have the majority in the Senate.

“This fight isn’t over,” McConnell said. “We intend to continue to fight to repeal and replace Obamacare with sensible reforms that would lower the cost of American healthcare.” Two items on his list: reducing medical malpractice claims and allowing states to sell insurance across state lines.

The final vote, which came on a procedural motion, was 51-47. Sixty votes were needed for the repeal effort to succeed.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called on the GOP to work with Democrats to find “common-sense” fixes to the law.

“It’s time for Republicans to set aside the battles of the past,” he said. “It’s time to move on from extreme, ideological plans to repeal a health care law that is lowering prices, expanding access to care and lowering our deficit.”

The Senate did, however, find bipartisan agreement to repeal one part of the health care law. By an 81-17 vote, senators passed an amendment to overturn the law’s requirement for more tax reporting.

That provision 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.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., argued that repealing the health care law would “explode” the nation’s debt and deficits. He cited a Congressional Budget Office report that said overturning the law would cost $145 billion by 2019 and $230 billion by 2021.

“That’s not just irresponsible, it’s reckless,” Conrad said.

McConnell dismissed the CBO analysis, charging that “only in Washington” would the creation of a new health care program actually save money.

The bid by Senate Republicans to overturn the health care law came two days after a federal judge ruled the law was unconstitutional.

Monday, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson struck down the entire law — going further than another federal judge did in ruling only the requirement that all Americans buy health insurance was unconstitutional.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., offered a resolution today asking the U.S. Supreme Court to quickly resolve the dispute over the health care law.

“The vote to repeal health care is largely symbolic, because the Supreme Court is going to have to be the one to decide this matter,” Nelson said in a statement. “We ought to do the right thing and ask the high court to rule quickly so we don’t keep arguing over this for the next several years.”

Also today, Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill., held hearings about the legal underpinnings of the health care law.

By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY

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