House Republicans voted on Thursday afternoon to repeal Obamacare — the third dead-end vote to wipe out the law entirely and the 37th vote to partially repeal or dismantle it.
The party line vote was 229-195. Two Democrats joined every Republican in voting for it.
GOP leaders weren’t especially interested in holding the symbolic vote but their hand was forced by conservative and freshman members, who complained that they hadn’t yet had the chance to vote to repeal the law and last month quashed a health care messaging bill about pre-existing conditions pushed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).
“Obamacare is not the answer,” Cantor said Thursday on the House floor. “We should repeal Obamacare and replace it with the health care that the American people desire.”But the repeal vote comes with an awkward complication: It also repeals a central deficit-reduction component of the GOP’s own budget by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), which was released in March with much bravado and projections that it would balance the budget within a decade.
Ryan’s budget relies on $1.7 trillion in budget savings under the Affordable Care Act — $1 trillion in new tax revenues and $716 billion in Medicare provider cuts — to reach its target of $4.6 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years. Nearly all Republicans voted for that budget this spring. And all Republicans, including Ryan, voted Thursday to eliminate that central component, without which the budget wouldn’t balance in the 10-year window.
“House Republicans’ budget hypocrisy knows no bounds,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the Democrats’ leader on budget issues, told TPM. “This Obamacare repeal vote … exposes the mother of all budget gimmicks — the fact that the Republican claim of balancing the budget depends on the savings and revenues from Obamacare. The minute they vote to repeal the law, their budget is out of balance — they can’t have it both ways.”
Neither the Ryan budget nor the Obamacare repeal bill are expected to become law. And the House GOP’s contradictory voting pattern on the policy matters serve as an indirect admission that these votes are more about politicking than governing.
Republican seized on an unfolding IRS scandal to stoke fears about the agency implementing parts of the law. They’re eager to highlight implementation glitches and use them against Democrats in the 2014 elections. Meanwhile, after the vote, the House Democrats’ campaign arm quickly launched web ads targeting 10 ostensibly vulnerable Republican incumbents for expending time and money on yet another repeal vote.
Meanwhile, the law will continue to be implemented, and the bulk of it — the subsidies, pre-existing conditions guarantee and individual mandate — will take effect in January.