February 3, 2011
Healthcare Law Repeal Rejected By Senate
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid replied to Republican efforts to repeal the controversial healthcare reform law, saying: "They want to replace patients' rights with insurance companies' power. They want to replace health with sickness. They want to replace the promise of tomorrow with the pain of yesterday," Reuters reports.
On a party-line vote of 51-47, the Senate rejected the Republican measure to rescind the law that aims to provide more than 30 million uninsured Americans with medical coverage while requiring nearly all to be insured or pay a fine.
Senate rejection, which Republican representatives vowed during last year's election campaigns to attempt to repeal, means the law's fate will likely be decided by court challenges and eventually the U.S. Supreme Court - a process that could stretch out over several months at least.
A federal judge in Florida on Monday ruled that Congress overstepped its authority in requiring that nearly all Americans obtain insurance or pay a fine.
States, struggling to balance their books in the aftermath of the recent economic downturn, also face higher costs for the Medicaid health program for the poor. Democrats say the law benefits people who had been unable to obtain coverage and ought to be maintained and improved.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held the first congressional hearing on the constitutionality of the law this week. Democrats say they believe the Supreme Court will ultimately decide in favor of the law.
Republican Senator Charles Grassley, a one-time participant in drafting the law who later withdrew from negotiations, said it was unclear what the Supreme Court may decide. Grassley continues, "What is clear is that if this law is constitutional, Congress can make Americans buy anything that Congress want."
According to Assistant Senate Democratic leader Dick Durbin, a number of landmark laws, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1935 Social Security retirement program, ran into trouble in lower courts before being upheld by the Supreme Court. "I believe the same will happen with the Affordable Care Act," Durbin said of the law being challenged in many courts.
"For those keeping score, 12 federal district court judges have dismissed challenges to the law, two have found the law to be constitutional and two have found the opposite," Durbin continued. While the Senate blocked appeal, it approved a measure to rescind a provision that saddled small businesses with excessive paperwork, a provision endorsed on both sides of the political aisle.
McConnell vowed to continue efforts for repeal saying: "We think this is just the beginning. This issue is still ahead of us and we will be going back at it in a variety of different ways."
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