Health Ruling Energizes Senate GOP Effort On Repeal

The federal court decision in Florida on Monday, declaring President Obama's health care law unconstitutional, has energized Republican efforts in the Senate to repeal it. They're pushing for a vote on full-scale repeal by the end of the week.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

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And I'm Robert Siegel.

Yesterday's decision by a federal judge in Florida has energized Republican efforts to repeal the health care law. The judge ruled the entire law unconstitutional, and now Republicans in the Senate are pushing for a vote to repeal the law by the end of this week. NPR's Audie Cornish reports from Capitol Hill.

AUDIE CORNISH: Since Democrats refuse to bring the House-passed health care repeal to the Senate floor, Republicans are looking for any opportunity for it to hitch a ride on any moving legislation. So they've moved to add a health care amendment to a bill on the air travel system. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Senator MITCH McCONNELL (Republican, Kentucky): At this point, it would be a dereliction of duty if Republicans didn't fight for repeal. We made a promise to our constituents that we would vote to repeal this bill on their behalf, and that's just what we intend to do.

CORNISH: Republicans praised the court ruling as a dagger to the heart of the bill. Democrats said not so fast.

Senator DICK DURBIN (Democrat, Illinois): If one robin doesn't make a spring, then one Florida judge doesn't make a repeal.

CORNISH: That's the Senate's second-ranking Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois.

Sen. DURBIN: That they would throw this in as their first amendment and turn their back on the FAA bill that is going to create and save so many thousands of jobs across America kind of tells the story. They are not seriously addressing the number one issue in America: creating jobs.

CORNISH: Democrats say people are already enjoying provisions of the health care law, like the rule barring insurers from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. And since repeal would increase the deficit, Democrats want to fight this latest repeal effort by forcing a procedural vote on the budget.

But if repeal doesn't work this time around, Republicans say they will be back with more amendments.

Senator LINDSEY GRAHAM (Republican, South Carolina): If we're going to vote on naming a post office this year, you're going to be voting on this.

CORNISH: Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina announced he was co-sponsoring a bill that would let states opt out of health regulations requiring employers to provide insurance and individuals to buy it. Yet another GOP bill in the works repeals an unpopular tax rule.

Democrats argue it's all a waste of time because they won't break ranks, and President Obama would veto any repeal. That's an unwise stance, says Utah Republican Orrin Hatch.

Senator ORRIN HATCH (Republican, Utah): Over time, given the power of ideas and an enraged and engaged citizenry, initially symbolic acts have a way of becoming law.

CORNISH: Republicans say they are in it for the long haul.

Audie Cornish, NPR News, the Capitol.

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