The House of Representatives today fulfilled its election mandate to repeal the bill that caused Republicans to sweep into office and install a new pro-life majority.
On a 245-189 vote, the House approved a measure to repeal the Obamacare bill that had the federal government essentially taking over the health care industry and putting a program in place that prompted significant concerns about abortion funding and rationing among pro-life groups analyzing the legislation.
Three Democrats joined every Republican in voting for the repeal bill while no Republicans joined Democrats in voting against it, including Reps. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Dan Boren of Oklahoma, and Mike Ross of Arkansas. larry Kissel of North Carolina initially voted for repeal but changed his vote to oppose the bill at the last minute.
Before the vote, the House defeated a Democratic-led attempt to send the bill back to committee, 245-181.
Speaker John Boehner laid out the case for repeal.
“Over the last two years the American people have been discussing the issue of health care. And the number one concern for the American people is the cost of health care – and yet what we see with ObamaCare is an increase in costs to the American people,” he said. “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 for more Americans.”
“And repeal means keeping a promise,” he added. “This is what we said we would do. We listened to the people – we made a commitment to them – a pledge to make their priorities our priorities.”
Congressman Mike Pence, a potential presidential candidate from Iowa, added, “I urge all of my colleagues in both political parties to join us today as we keep our promise to the American people, as we scrap this health care reform bill of last year and start over.”
Rep. John Fleming, a Louisiana Republican who is also a physician, noted Obamacare’s lack of abortion funding limits.
“One way or another, taxpayer money will help and assist abortions that will occur as a result of Obamacare,” he said. “There’s nothing that blocks using some, if not all, of that money for abortions.”
Before the vote, pro-life advocacy groups reiterated their support for repeal.
“We fully support the effort to repeal this disastrous law,” Catholic Vote told its members. “This wildly unpopular health care law is exactly what is wrong in Washington. The massive new law is filled with new spending, mandates, and taxes, including loopholes that would allow taxpayer funding for abortion, and threats to conscience and the future of faith-based private health care. It must be repealed, de-funded, or stripped of every threat to liberty, conscience, and life.”
Americans United for Life Action president Charmaine Yoest added, “With the Obama Administration arguing in court that they have the right to force this upon Americans because they may tax us, AULA calls on Congress to say no to this abortion tax and the law that violates the principles of the pro-life Hyde Amendment. The vast majority of Americans agree that no tax for abortions is acceptable.”
“It is time to repeal President Obama’s health care law. It allows taxpayer funding to go to insurance plans that cover abortions, directly contrary to the long-standing Hyde Amendment,” she explained. ” It also permits, contrary to Hyde, direct funding of abortion in some areas. This was demonstrated in the furor over federal funding of abortion through ‘high-risk pools,” which is now prohibited.”
“It contains vague ‘mandates’ for private insurance plans into which abortion coverage can be pushed,” she added. “And the President’s executive order does not remedy the anti-life aspects of the law. Given the pro-abortion sentiments of Obama’s administration, it is unlikely that they will attempt to keep abortion out of health care through its regulations. But they are out of step with the vast majority of Americans – pro-life and pro-choice – who agree that we should not pay for abortions with tax dollars.”
With repeal passing the House, the focus moves to the Senate, where pro-abortion Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid has already said he will not allow the repeal measure to enjoy a debate or vote. Senate Republicans may be forced to employ filibusters or attempt to attach the repeal bill to another piece of legislation as an amendment in order to get a vote on it.
The debate saw some lawmakers step on the new tone political pundits say is needed in Washington following the Arizona shootings involving Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, tried to hit Republicans with what he called “lies” about Obamacare being a “government takeover” of the health care system.
“They say it’s a government takeover of health care, a big lie, just like Goebbels. You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie and eventually people believe it,” he said.
In an interview with CNN, he stood by his comments, saying, “I didn’t see anything wrong with it. Goebbels was the great propagandist of probably the 20th century, and his whole theory was if you tell the lie over and over again people will believe it.”
The House of Representatives took its first step two weeks ago in repealing the abortion-funding ObamaCare bill that pro-life groups strongly oppose.
On a 236-181 vote, Republicans approved the rules for debate for the legislation they will vote on next week to repeal the government takeover of health care. Four Democrats (Reps. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Mike McIntyre and Larry Kissell of North Carolina and Mike Ross of Arkansas) joined Republicans in supporting the rule while two Republicans voted present and 15 lawmakers of both parties did not vote.
The vote also paves the way for axing the abortion funding from ObamaCare.
The rule also provides for consideration of H. Res. 9, which instructs relevant House Committees to replace Obamacare with legislation that achieves certain goals including to “prohibit taxpayer funding for abortions and provide conscience protections for health care providers.”
When Congress passed the government-run health care bill, it did so without any limits on abortion funding and language mandating taxpayer financing of abortion in certain circumstances.
Obama eventually issued a controversial executive order supposedly taking the abortion funding issue off the table.
However, virtually every pro-life group said it would not mitigate the abortion funding because it doesn’t have the effect of law, could be reversed in the future, and because it didn’t tackle much of the abortion funding in the bill. The Obama administration could also ignore the order and not put it in place when the health care law goes into effect.
The exchange doesn’t go into effect until 2014 and states are filing lawsuits seeking to stop the pro-abortion health care bill in its other pro-abortion provisions entirety, but states are moving now to exercise their right to opt out of some of the abortion funding.
Arizona, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana have passed similar bills that have already been signed into law by governors in those states and several other states are expected to consider legislation in their upcoming legislative sessions. Governors in Oklahoma and Florida vetoed similar legislation.