Posted on February 7, 2011
By Steve Tetreault
WASHINGTON — A campaign by Republicans to scrap the health care overhaul ran its course last week when the Senate rejected an amendment to repeal the far-reaching law.
The vote for repeal was 47-51. All Republicans voted for repeal, while Democrats who saw the law to passage last year stuck together and voted to keep it intact.
Republican senators maintained they were heeding a message from voters in last year's elections to ditch the law.
The debate was largely a replay from when health care reform was considered over the past two years.
Republicans argued the new law will hike taxes on health industries. They charged it would increase insurance premiums on businesses and cause some to drop coverage for workers.
They predicted the underpinning of the law — requiring most Americans to buy health insurance or face fines — ultimately would be declared unconstitutional.
Democrats countered that the GOP repeal effort was no more than a kowtow to its conservative base.
They argued Republicans were not prepared to say how they would replace the law with anything that would help patients or make insurance more available to a significant number of the uninsured.
Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both R-Tenn., voted for repeal.
Tax requirement shelved
Democrats and Republicans largely agreed on at least one change to the health law, voting to remove a controversial tax reporting rule.
Senators voted 81-17 for an amendment to repeal a requirement that businesses submit a 1099 form each year for every vendor who is paid more than $600.
The measure was intended to aid crackdowns on tax cheats, but businesses said it would create paperwork nightmares.
The rollback is expected to cost the Treasury $19.2 billion in lost revenue over 10 years.
The Senate amendment rescinded $44 billion in unspent funds in federal programs, leaving it up to the White House to determine the specific cuts with Social Security, defense and veterans programs exempted. Some senators objected to giving the executive branch that authority.
Alexander and Corker voted for the amendment.
Senators rejected an alternative amendment that would have repealed the 1099 requirement but paid for the revenue loss mostly by raising taxes on oil and gas producers.
The vote was 44-54 on the amendment, which was sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. Alexander and Corker voted against the amendment.