The Senate voted along party lines against a motion by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to repeal the Obamacare law that allowed for a government takeover of the health care system and prompted abortion funding and rationing concerns.
Senators voted 51-47 against the McConnell Rule 14 motion, a rule typically reserved for party leaders that allows them to bypass committee action on legislation and place the bill directly before the Senate. In this case, the vote came on the House-approved legislation that would repeal the Obamacare bill.
All 47 Republican Senators voted to fully repeal Obamacare while none of the Democrats — including “pro-life” Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — voted to repeal the bill allowing abortion funding.
Had the Senate approved the measure, pro-abortion President Barack Obama would have certainly vetoed it.
The vote came during the same week in which a federal judge ruled the law unconstitutional because of the individual mandate, which compels Americans to purchase health insurance — that could pay for abortions with taxpayer funds or through premiums.
“Senate Republicans promised the American people we would vote to repeal, and we have done that. But this fight isn’t over,” Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said.
“When two federal courts in a row rule that this bill is unconstitutional, and we learn every day of some other way it’s not only making healthcare worse, but also hurting jobs and the economy, it’s no wonder more Americans support repeal than oppose it. Court rulings like the one out of Florida yesterday only add to the urgency of scrapping this bill and starting over,” McConnell said.
McConnell said it would be a “dereliction of duty” for Republicans not to fight for repeal.
Before the vote, the National Right to Life Committee called on all Senators to vote to repeal the Obama Healthcare Law, and stated that it would include the vote in its scorecard of key right-to-life roll calls of the 112th Congress.
“As enacted, the Obama Healthcare Law contains multiple provisions authorizing federal subsidies for abortion, and additional provisions on which future abortion-expanding regulatory mandates may be based,” NRLC director David O’Steen said.
“In addition, it contains multiple provisions that will, if fully implemented, result in government-imposed rationing of lifesaving medical care,” NRLC medical ethics director Burke Balch added.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be empowered to impose so-called “quality and efficiency” measures on health care providers, based on recommendations by the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which is directed to force private health care spending below the rate of medical inflation. In many cases treatment that a doctor and patient deem needed or advisable to save that patient’s life or preserve or improve the patient’s health but which runs afoul of the imposed standards will be denied, even if the patient wants to pay for it.
Meanwhile, pro-life Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina introduced legislation to repeal Obamacare — essentially the Senate version of the bill the House previously approved. Every Republican senator has joined DeMint to co-sponsor the legislation, making it clear GOP lawmakers will stand united against the pro-abortion, pro-rationing legislation.
Any vote to repeal Obamacare is a politically sensitive one for Democrats because of the 23 Senate Democrats who face re-election in 2012 — many of whom hail from states where they will face very difficult re-election campaigns. Forcing them to vote on repealing Obamacare, and subsequently voting no when polling data suggests a majority of Americans remain opposed to the law, would be politically difficult.
Monday’s court ruling declaring the law unconstitutional saw U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson say the individual mandate is unconstitutional and, therefore, the entire law is as well.
The individual mandate is a portion of the law independent and conservative voters most strongly oppose because it requires Americans to purchase health insurance, that could fund abortions with taxpayer funds or premiums, whether they want to or not. The case the state of Florida and more than two dozen others made to Judge Vinson is that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and the Constitution does not allow Congress to regular financial inactivity.
“Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void,” the judge wrote. “This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications. At a time when there is virtually unanimous agreement that health care reform is needed in this country, it is hard to invalidate and strike down a statute titled ‘The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.’”
“Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution,” the judge wrote. “This case is not about whether the Act is wise or unwise legislation. It is about the Constitutional role of the federal government.”
“Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with individual mandate,” he added.
The Obama administration says it will appeal the decision to the U.S. Appeals Court based in Atlanta, Georgia. Judge Vinson did not stop the implementation of the law pending the appeal which could take two years to reach the Supreme Court and result in a decision.
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.
Arizona, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, 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.