This week, with the House of Representatives out of session, attention has been focused on the drama occurring in the Senate.
After the House of Representatives passed a repeal of ObamaCare in January 2011, Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) introduced a Senate companion bill containing the same language as the House bill. All 47 Republicans in the Senate signed on to support the ObamaCare repeal legislation, and there were rumors that a few Democrats facing tough reelection campaigns would be willing to cross party lines.
Although it looked like Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) was determined to block such a vote, momentum against ObamaCare built with a major judicial blow to the legislation. On January 31, 2011, a federal court struck down the linchpin to ObamaCare, the mandate requiring every individual to buy health insurance. The judge agreed with twenty-six states who challenged the law.
Concerned Women for America’s CEO Penny Nance said of the ruling:
“We at Concerned Women for America feel vindicated by Judge Vinson’s ruling that the ObamaCare mandate — which forces Americans to buy health insurance — is unconstitutional. This is the second federal judge to rule the law is unconstitutional, and we urge Congress to go forward with repealing the law and all its unsavory elements: the unconstitutional mandate, the higher taxes, and the abortion coverage which almost killed the bill in Congress last year.”
Democrats who fervently supported ObamaCare were perturbed by Judge Vinson’s ruling, and a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled, “The Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act,” was held days later on February 2. Three of the panel speakers were unabashedly liberal and scoffed at claims that ObamaCare is an overreach of Congress’s powers. Two of the speakers, including Professor Randy Barnett of Georgetown University, disagreed and brought up the fact that ObamaCare was an unprecedented power grab in which Congress demanded that Americans purchase health insurance or face a fine.
Later that evening, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) attached an amendment to repeal ObamaCare to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. The ObamaCare repeal amendment needed 60 votes to pass. Unfortunately, none of the Democrats whose constituents clearly oppose the law were willing to defy their leadership and vote for repeal. In the end, the amendment failed by a completely partisan vote of 47-51. Republican leadership has vowed to continue efforts to bring ObamaCare repeal legislation to the Senate floor in the future.
In the meantime, CWA is continuing to encourage Republican senators to keep this issue at the forefront of discussions and to engage with Democratic senators who are feeling pressure from their leaders to disregard the wishes of their constituents.