This vote was on defeating a motion made by Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., to send a bill making corrections to the health care overhaul law back to the Finance Committee to rewrite some provisions. Specifically the motion would have asked that the bill be rewritten to prohibit the health care law from mandating that employers must provide health insurance to their employees. After Enzi made his motion, Max Baucus, D-Mont., made a separate motion that Enzi’s motion be killed, which is what this vote was on.
The motion was made to a bill that would revise a major health care and student loan overhaul law cleared by the House the night before. A bill is “cleared” when one chamber of Congress passes a bill that has already been passed by the other chamber; once a bill is “cleared” it is sent to the president. The law being changed aims to expand the availability of health care coverage for some 31 million Americans that are not currently covered.
Enzi said the bill under consideration “makes a bad employment situation even worse” and said he isn’t trying to kill the whole bill, but rather just a “bad” portion of it.
“It imposes $52 billion in new taxes on employers who cannot afford to provide health insurance to their workers. The new employer tax will result in lower wages and lost jobs,” Enzi said. “The Nation’s unemployment rate is 9.7 percent, and in many States the unemployment rate is well into the teens. We should be doing everything possible to create new jobs, but the employer mandate in the reconciliation bill does the opposite.”
Max Baucus, D-Mont., said “sending the bill to committee sounds like killing the bill to me. I have never heard of a motion to commit that is not, in effect, a motion to kill the bill.”
“I might also remind my colleagues there are tax credits in here for small business to the tune of—I think it is $17 billion. Firms with fewer than 50 employees are totally exempt from any penalty,” Baucus said.
By a vote of 58-41, the motion to kill Enzi’s motion succeeded. All but one Democrat voted to kill Enzi’s motion. Every Republican present voted against. The end result is that the motion to kill Enzi’s motion succeeded, Enzi’s motion failed, and the bill went forward without language that would have forced the health care reconciliation bill to be rewritten to stipulate that employers do not have to offer health insurance to their employees under the new health care law.