ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports: The Senate could vote on repealing the health care law as soon as today.
How? Well, as always, it’s complicated in the Senate.
Democrats want to pass the $35 billion FAA reauthorization bill that they are touting as “the first jobs bill” of the new Congress. They say it will save or create an estimated 280,000 jobs.
Republicans want to force a vote as soon as possible on the House-passed bill to repeal the health care law.
So today Mitch McConnell announced his plans to attach the repeal as an amendment to the aviation bill.
“We pledged to the American people that we would seek to repeal this 2,700-page bill that seeks to restructure all of American health care and put the decisions in Washington. I’m pleased to announce that all 47 of my members will be voting to repeal Obamacare,” McConnell said.
“Everybody will have an opportunity to be on record. I think it will be clear who is for repeal and who isn’t.”
But it’s not as simple as a straight up-or-down vote on repeal.
Democrats plan to protest the GOP repeal amendment as a so-called budget point of order because it would add to the deficit. In order for the repeal amendment to advance any further, Republicans would need 60 votes to get past the budget point of order.
In other words, when senators vote on the budget point of order, they will essentially be voting on the health care repeal. After repeatedly voicing objections to any vote on repeal, Democrats now say they just want to get it over and done with.
“It appears that there’s a plan to divert attention from the first jobs bill we’ve had in some time,” Reid told reporters at a press conference today.
“The FAA bill is important. We’re going to do everything we can to get rid of these amendments,” he said.
“If one robin doesn’t make a spring then one Florida judge doesn’t make a repeal,” quipped the Senate’s number-two Democrat Dick Durbin in reference to yesterday’s ruling by a Florida judge that the health care law was unconstitutional.
“That they would throw this in as their first amendment and turn their back on the FAA bill that’s going to create and save so many thousands of jobs across America kind of tells the story. They’re not seriously addressing the number one issue in America – creating jobs,” he said.
“Instead of joining us in a bipartisan effort to get that done, Republicans want to check the box for the Tea Party and file an amendment to repeal the health care reform bill – it’s going to lose.”
Added Reid, “We want to have a debate on aviation transportation, but the Republicans obviously want to do something on health care and so we want to get this out of their system very quickly.”
Republicans have acknowledged that the repeal vote will not advance in the Senate due to the Democrats’ 53 to 47 majority, but they want to go on the record nevertheless – and this vote will give them a chance to do just that.
While the repeal is destined to fail, a push to change the much-maligned 1099 provision of the health care law appears likely to succeed. Sen. Mike Johanns, R-NE, has introduced an amendment to scrap the 1099 mandate from the bill and just last week he said the proposal had gained the support of 60 senators, giving it enough to make it past the Senate’s filibuster threshold.
Votes could come as soon as later today, but they may be pushed until later in the week. The GOP-controlled House voted earlier this month to repeal the law.