Debate on the rule gave Republicans and Democrats a chance to revisit how ObamaCare became law — Republicans recalled a secret process that led to a flawed law that has not delivered the promises that President Obama made, such as lower health insurance premiums.
The sponsor of the repeal bill, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), and other Republicans seized on recent comments from Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who said the implementation of the bill appears to be a "train wreck."
"We're here to make the turn from a train wreck," Bachmann said of her bill.
"ObamaCare is a destroyer," Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) said on the floor. "It's going to destroy the doctor-patient relationship. It's going to destroy the quality of healthcare in America. It's going to destroy budgets, from personal budgets, family budgets, business budgets, state budgets and even the federal budget."
Democrats played up the vote later Thursday as the 37th time House Republicans will allow a vote on repeal of all or part of the law. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said it would be another wasted repeal vote — since the Senate will never consider the bill — and that these votes are wasting money.
"Recent estimates are that each vote to repeal or to defund the Affordable Care Act has cost $1.45 million in taxpayer money," Slaughter said. "So today's debate will bring the total cost of repeal votes to — wake up there — $53 million and counting."
Slaughter also defended the process used to pass ObamaCare, and said Republicans had plenty of chances to offer input into the bill.
"The Affordable Care Act was the product of 100 hearings, 83 hours of committee markups including both Republicans and Democrats making amendments," she said.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said repealing the law would hurt millions of women, children and other people who need the healthcare coverage the law provides.
"They want to tell 17 million children with pre-existing disease, you cannot go in anymore and be covered," she said of Republicans supporting the bill. "The conversation here is plain foolish. They're only talking about their economics, their economics of wealth."
Before debate on the rule, Democrats charged that the constitutional authority statement accompanying Bachmann's bill makes no sense, and that the bill therefore should not be considered. The statement cited the 10th Amendment to the Constitution as a valid reason for congressional consideration of the bill, since repealing ObamaCare would return power to the states.
Democrats said that statement confuses the purpose of the 10th Amendment, since that Amendment deals with reserving authority to states, and should not be seen as a justification for Congress to act. But when Democrats tried to raise it as a point of order against the bill, they were told it was not timely, since the bill itself was not up for consideration yet.