An effort spearheaded by Republicans to repeal the new health care law collapsed Wednesday evening after the Senate refused to ignore its adverse impact on the deficit.
By a vote of 47-51, the Senate sustained an objection to the legislation on the grounds that it does not comply with congressional budget rules. Because a full repeal of the law is projected to increase the deficit, waiving that point of order would have required 60 votes.
But even if Democrats had allowed a straight up or down vote on the amendment, it likely would have failed. No Democrats voted with the GOP to remove the objection, giving them fewer than the 51 they’d need to successfully repeal it. Republicans — and, really, everyone else — have been expecting this outcome for months. And while this blunts their head-on efforts at repeal, they’ve always expected that their best chances to destroy or chip away at the law will come either via the courts, spending bills or amendments to the law meant to weaken it.
One such effort, driven by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Barrasso (R-WY) would allow states to opt out of the law’s key provisions, which, they say, would cause the overall policy to collapse.
Top Democrats have suggested that if Republicans keep forcing votes on full repeal, they’ll put the legislation on the floor, and during the debate, force votes on amendments to exempt popular aspects of the law.
Republicans were heartened this week when a federal judge in Florida just ruled that the entire law should be
repealed voided. But today, Ronald Reagan’s Solicitor General — the conservative legal expert Charles Fried — said that the health care law is undoubtedly constitutional.
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.