This was a vote on a motion to waive the Senate’s budget rules and pass amendment by Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that would have repealed a 2010 landmark health care reform law that prohibited health insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions and provided health insurance coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans. This amendment was offered to legislation authorizing annual funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. (The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has regulatory authority over all civil aviation in the United States.)
The healthcare reform measure that Republicans sought to repeal was strongly supported by President Obama, and he signed it into law in March 2010. The law imposed a requirement that most Americans have health insurance, and was estimated to expand insurance coverage to 95% of the U.S. population. Employers with more than 50 workers were required to provide health insurance for their employees. The measure added 15 million people to the Medicaid rolls, and subsidized the purchase of private health insurance coverage for low- and middle-income people. In addition, the health care law imposed a 40% tax on high-cost insurance plans -- or those plans that are worth more than $27,500 for families, and $10,200 for individuals.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) urged support for the repeal amendment: “The American people have made their opinion on this bill known loudly and clearly….Enough is enough. That is what the voters said. Enough deficit spending; enough government intrusion into our businesses, our families, our lives, and our health care decisions. The people of America support the repeal of this bill…”
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) also supported the amendment: “ObamaCare cannot be fixed by tinkering with its provisions, because the basic premise is flawed. This law is actively creating a government-controlled system that relies on high taxes, less choices, and bureaucrats making health care decisions for Americans. This is exactly what we are opposed to and why we insist on a full repeal.”
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) urged opposition to the amendment: “Our families are depending on the changes we made within this health care reform law. It is why I supported reforming our health care system. It is why I fought so hard for so long to make sure it worked for our families and small business owners. And it is why I am going to keep fighting to make sure we do not go back to the way things were, that we continue to make progress and do this right.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) accused the Republicans of hypocrisy with respect to health care policy: “Each of the critics on the Republican side of the aisle of what they call government-administered health insurance… is currently protecting his or her family with government-administered health care….As a show of good faith, I think the Republican Senators should come to the floor today and say: Not only are we going to vote for repeal of health care reform, we are going to show our personal commitment by walking away from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, a government-administered health insurance program. I would admire them so much if their actions as Senators reflected their speeches on the floor. But they don't. They are denying to the rest of America what every single Member of Congress has available today to protect their families. That, to me, is indefensible.”
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) contended that the amendment violated the Senate’s budget rules because it would have increased the budget deficit. McConnell then made a motion to waive the Senate’s budget rules and pass the amendment.
The Senate rejected the motion to waive its budget rules—thus defeating McConnell’s amendment—by a vote of 47-51. (At least 60 votes are required to waive the Senate’s budget rules.) All 47 Republicans voted “yea.” All 51 Democrats present voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate rejected an amendment that would have repealed a 2010 landmark health care reform law that provided health insurance coverage to 30 million previously uninsured Americans and prohibited health insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.