The Republican-led House of Representatives today will hold a key test vote on its top priority: repealing the new health care law.
The up-or-down vote will set the terms of the debate on the repeal bill itself, which is scheduled to hit the floor (and pass) on Wednesday. During that debate, Democrats will be unable to introduce their own amendments and have been closed out of the process more generally. An earlier plan to force committee-level votes on popular elements of the bill was scuttled earlier this week.
Instead, Democrats are preparing a procedural motion, similar to this one, to make Republicans take a stand on portions of the law that have bipartisan support.
But while today’s vote clears the legislation for passage, the repeal legislation isn’t going very far. At a Thursday press conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reiterated that repeal is dead on arrival in the Senate.
“The Republicans have to understand, the health care bill is not going to be repealed,” he said.
At least one Democrat, Rep. Dan Boren (D-Ok), has announced that he’ll support the Republicans’ repeal push. At a press availability Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said that he expected a few Democrats would defect on the votes, but that Democratic leadership isn’t concerned about the appearance, sure to be exploited by the GOP, that there’s bipartisan support for repealing “Obamacare.”
Interestingly, though, some of the least-dependent Democrats, including Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA) who voted against the health care law last year, are saying they’ll oppose Republican efforts to repeal the law. That suggests that even scared, skeptical Democrats are closing ranks around it.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.