January 14, 2011

House To Vote Next Week On Repeal Of Healthcare Law

The U.S. House of Representatives is set to resume work next week after a week of mourning, and will vote on whether to repeal President Barack Obama's landmark health care law, a House Republican spokesman said Thursday.

"As the White House noted, it is important for Congress to get back to work, and to that end we will resume thoughtful consideration of the health care bill next week," said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The House had originally planned to hold the vote on healthcare this week, but delayed action in the wake of a shooting spree in Tucson, Arizona, which killed six people, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, and wounded several others, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

"Americans have legitimate concerns about the cost of the new healthcare law and its effect on the ability to grow jobs in our country," Dayspring said.

While the Republicans will likely succeed in passing the repeal in the House of Representatives, they lack the votes in the Democrat-controlled Senate, making the move largely symbolic. Even if the Senate were to pass the measure, the White House has said president Obama would veto the repeal.

The House is also expected to vote on a separate measure that would direct three House committees to develop replacement healthcare legislation that would, among other things, "foster economic growth and private sector job creation by eliminating job-killing policies and regulations."

"It is our expectation that the debate will continue to focus on those substantive policy differences surrounding the new law," Dayspring told AFP.

Members of the Tea Party, who played a critical role in helping Republicans win the largest turnover of congressional seats since 1948, view the healthcare law as another costly government intrusion, coming on the heels of Washington's bailout of major financial and automotive companies.

However, Democrats say the law will expand coverage to millions of uninsured Americans while reducing the steep rise in medical costs.

Republicans argue that the law's mandate that every American purchase coverage or pay a fine is unconstitutional, and that penalizing employers who do not cover workers discourages hiring.  Additionally, there are broad concerns over the long-term U.S. debt burdens, of which government healthcare programs are a significant component.

The battle over Obama's healthcare law is also being fought in the states, who must implement many of the law's requirements.

On Tuesday, Kansas took the first step in joining a multi-state lawsuit led by Florida.  The coalition of states, which now includes more than half of all U.S. states, argue that the law is an overreach of federal power.

The federal government is currently appealing a recent decision by a federal judge in Virginia, who ruled that the healthcare law's requirement that all individuals have health insurance or pay a fine is unconstitutional.


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