Does Health Law Repeal Have A Chance In Senate?
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
And for more on the health care repeal, we're going to get the view from the Senate now.
As NPR's David Welna reports, it's not just that the measure stands no chance of passing there, where Democrats still hold a slim majority; it's unlikely the Senate will even consider the bill.
DAVID WELNA: It's perhaps emblematic of the one-sided push to repeal the health care law that the Senate has not been in session for one word of the House debate. It's been two weeks since the Senate last assembled, and just as its members left, majority leader Harry Reid had a blunt message for his GOP colleagues.
SIEGEL: The Republicans have to understand that the health care bill is not going to be repealed.
WELNA: Asked at the time whether he'd commit to bringing a health care repeal bill to the Senate floor, Reid gave a one-word reply: no. Even more categorically, the Democratic leader's spokesman now says Reid will not bring it up in the Senate, which is not to say Democrats have necessarily been sorry to see the repeal effort in the House.
Here's New York Senator Charles Schumer three days ago on NBC's "Meet the Press."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")
SIEGEL: We welcome, in a certain sense, their attempt to repeal it because it gives us a second chance to make a first impression.
WELNA: Senate Democrats got a boost for their cause yesterday from a one-time GOP colleague who's a doctor. The Senate's former Republican majority leader, Bill Frist, praised the package of benefits provided by the health care law.
M: Nobody is going to say take that away. Or if they say take it away, it will be put right back in, because it has many strong elements. And those elements - well, whatever happens - need to be preserved, need to be cuddled, need to be snuggled, need to be promoted and need to be implemented.
WELNA: In the House, Democrats declared the repeal dead on arrival in the Senate.
Here's Maryland's Chris Van Hollen.
SIEGEL: We don't think it makes a whole lot of sense to debate a bill that, thankfully, will go nowhere in the Senate and would certainly be vetoed by the president.
WELNA: Wisconsin Republican and Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan came to his party's defense.
SIEGEL: If that's the logic we take on every bill we bring to the floor, then we ought to just go home. We think it's important to define ourselves with our actions, and that's why we're acting. We think this law should be totally repealed, and that's why we're doing this.
WELNA: And House Majority Leader Eric Cantor today implored Reid, his Senate counterpart, to bring the repeal to the Senate floor.
SIEGEL: The American people deserve a full hearing. They deserve to see this legislation go to the Senate for a full vote.
WELNA: If Senate Democrats are so sure the repeal effort is a political win for them, said Cantor, quote, "Let's see the votes."
But Rutgers University congressional expert Ross Baker says those votes would not likely be in the GOP's favor.
P: I don't think there would be the votes even among Democrats who are lukewarm about the health insurance reform to support a repeal or anything like a repeal.
WELNA: What the Senate likely will debate are some small fixes to the health care law that do have bipartisan support.
David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.
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