House Repeals Affordable Care Act In Symbolic Vote

The GOP-controlled House voted to repeal President Obama's health care law. It's a largely symbolic gesture as the Democratic Senate will not agree to a repeal.

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Once again, the House of Representatives has passed a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The vote was 244 to 185, a handful of Democrats joined the Republicans in voting for the repeal. NPR's Andrea Seabrook reports.

ANDREA SEABROOK, BYLINE: The day the Supreme Court upheld the law that is the single biggest achievement of President Obama and congressional Democrats, House Republican leaders announced they would try to repeal it - again. In fact, today was the 31st time they have attempted to block all or parts of the law. Or as Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro put it...

REPRESENTATIVE ROSA DELAURO: Welcome to Groundhog Day in the House of Representatives.

SEABROOK: But House Speaker John Boehner argued there's a reason Republicans keep bringing it up.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: No, I think this is an opportunity to save our economy.

SEABROOK: Jobs, Boehner said. He and his colleagues make a link between the continuing slow growth in the economy and the Affordable Care Act.

BOEHNER: This bill is making our economy worse, driving up the cost of health care and making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers.

SEABROOK: Republicans offer only anecdotes to support these assertions. In fact, today's debate on the House floor was largely fact free, with both sides exercising more condescension and moral outrage than anything else. Republican freshmen seem the most zealous about repealing the Affordable Care Act, perhaps because most campaigned against it in 2010 and have been fighting it for, literally, their entire congressional careers. Bill Johnson is a Republican freshman from Ohio.

REPRESENTATIVE BILL JOHNSON: We've long known that President Obama's takeover of our health care is bad medicine, and now that the Supreme Court has determined that it's one of the largest tax increases in American history, we've confirmed that it's bad policy.

SEABROOK: Democratic leaders asked Republicans what exactly would they put in the place of the health care law. This gave Connecticut Democrat John Larson a chance to point out that many in the GOP support popular parts of the law, like the ban on discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions and the ability to keep kids on parents' insurance until age 26.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LARSON: You embrace most everything that's in this plan but would rather see the president fail than the nation succeed.

SEABROOK: Politics, Larson said, that's all this bill is because the Senate has already killed it once and isn't likely to take it up again. That's why House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker who was pivotal in passing the Affordable Care Act in 2010, called the repeal bill today a monumental waste of time.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: The American people want us to create jobs. That's what we should be using this time on the floor for, not on this useless bill to nowhere - bill to nowhere - that does serious damage to the health and economic wellbeing of America's families.

SEABROOK: Republicans said they wanted to bring up repeal again because of the ruling by the Supreme Court upholding the law. They wanted to give another chance, they said, to Democrats in the House and Senate to come around to their side. And if they don't, said Illinois Republican Peter Roskam...

REPRESENTATIVE PETER ROSKAM: Here's the good news: The voters get the last word in November. Stay tuned.

SEABROOK: Andrea Seabrook, NPR News, the Capitol.

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