Senate Democrats Call Out Republicans Before Defeating Healthcare Repeal

Senate Democrats defeated the repeal of healthcare reform Republicans had hoped for, but not before denouncing the GOP attempt at repeal in turn.

Senators on Wednesday defeated the repeal measure put forward by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The repeal failed on a vote of 47-51.

Ahead of the vote, Democrats lined up to criticize Republicans, including Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. Mikulski charged that, by voting to repeal last year’s landmark reform law, Republicans actually were breaking a key campaign promise.

Mikulski noted that last year on the campaign trail leading up to the November 2010 midterm elections, GOP candidates promised to “repeal and replace” the healthcare law with an alternative.

“They went out there and campaigned and the tea party had a teapot boiling and they said, ‘We’re going to offer a bill to repeal and to replace.’ Guess what they’re doing here today? One more hollow, symbolic pan pander to the masses amendment. Their amendment offers a repeal, but it does not offer a plan or strategy to replace, because you know why? They have no ideas,” Mikulski says. “They just want to pander to the crowd. Now, I want you to know, I am emphatically and unabashedly against the repeal of health care reform.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) indicated Democrats would be interested in genuine improvements to the reform law, such as a separate amendment approved Wednesday that would repeal just one small part of the reform law related to tax reporting that small business found onerous. That measure, offered by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), passed overwhelmingly.

However, Reid says, Democrats would stand up for the basic improvements made possible by reform.

“Democrats have said we are willing to compromise on common-sense fixes to health care reform – keeping what works and changing what doesn’t – to make an imperfect law closer to perfect. Today we reached across the aisle for the good of families and businesses in Nevada and across America,” he says.

“But Democrats will not compromise if it means undoing the progress we’ve made toward fixing a broken system. We won’t raise taxes on small businesses, hike prescription drug prices for seniors or allow insurance companies to deny sick children the care they need,” Reid adds. “And we won’t pretend, as Republicans insist on doing, that health care reform hasn’t changed the lives of millions of Americans – small-businesses owners, parents, kids and seniors – for the better.”

Reid urged Republicans to drop their agenda of trying to repeal existing law, and focus instead on creating new jobs for Americans.

“It’s time for Republicans to set aside the battles of the past,” he says. “It’s time to move on from extreme, ideological plans to repeal a health care law that is lowering prices, expanding access to care and lowering our deficit. There is plenty of work left to do together to create jobs, expand our economy and move this country forward.”

The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.

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