House votes to repeal ObamaCare

The House voted to repeal ObamaCare on Thursday for the third time since Republicans took over the chamber in 2011.

Only two Democrats sided with Republicans in the party-line 229-195 vote — Jim Matheson (Utah) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.). All Republicans voted in favor of repeal.

This is the 37th time the House GOP has voted to repeal or defund at least part of the bill, but this latest bill will also not become law given Democrats' control of the Senate.

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Still, many House Republicans had clamored for the bill from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) to be considered, while Democrats accused the GOP of wasting the House's time.

ObamaCare's implementation is expected to be a major issue in next year's midterm elections, and some Democrats have expressed worries that the law and its implementation problems could be a problem for their party.

The two Democrats who voted for repeal were part of a group of five Democrats who voted with Republicans in last year's repeal vote. The other three are no longer in office — Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.), Larry Kissell (N.C.) and Mike Ross (Ark.).

The vote followed a two-hour debate in which Republicans said ObamaCare repeal is needed more than ever in light of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal, since the IRS will play a key role in enforcing the law. 

Bachmann implied the scandal shows the IRS cannot stay neutral on these issues, and said Americans should be worried about IRS enforcement of the health law.

"In light of the recent revelations that have just come out within this last week regarding the outrageous activities of the Internal Revenue Service pointed against the people of the United States, every American should be concerned about the negative consequences of this bill, ObamaCare," Bachmann said.

"The Supreme Court has ruled that ObamaCare is in fact a tax. Knowing that it's a tax, the logical conclusion is that the entity in the United States tasked with enforcing tax policy is the IRS."

More broadly, Republicans said ObamaCare failed to live up to Democratic promises that the law would lower healthcare costs and cover all Americans, and yet is still too expensive to implement and comes with regulatory strings that will hurt job creation and not help improve healthcare.

"We in the majority fundamentally disagree that more government is the answer," Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said. "Sweeping mandates on individuals and businesses will not improve our healthcare."

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), who was just sworn into office on Wednesday, also spoke out in favor of repealing ObamaCare. "It turns upside down this American tradition of not having the government force on the consumers the notion of the purchase of a product," he said, referring to the law's requirement that people must purchase health insurance.

Democrats argued that the bill would cut off healthcare access to millions of people, but mostly criticized the bill as a waste of time, since the Senate will not consider the bill, and President Obama has said he would veto it. Many noted that the House has repeatedly voted to repeal either all or part of ObamaCare.

"Apparently the Republicans are opposed to ObamaCare," Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said. "I know that comes as a shock to America, so we need to tell them one more time, or 37 times, or maybe a 38th or a 39th or a 40th or a 100th time."

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) said Republicans should be ashamed of wasting taxpayer funds on these repetitive votes that go no where.

"Quit wasting the taxpayers' money and the Congress's time. You should be ashamed of yourself," Doyle said. Doyle and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) estimated that the cost of these votes is $53 million and said that money would be better used in other ways.

And Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) charged that by spending time on this bill, Republicans were dodging other issues, such as replacing the sequester or trying to pass a jobs bill. "What this is, is another example of job evasion," Pelosi said.

House Republicans called up the bill just weeks after they had to pull a bill that sought to tweak ObamaCare. That earlier bill would have gutted a several billion dollar fund created by ObamaCare, and would have used some of that money for deficit reduction, and some of it to boost an ObamaCare insurance program for people with pre-existing conditions.

While GOP leaders were hoping to use that bill as a way to gut a fund they have labeled a "slush fund," they were unable to get enough Republican support for the bill and had to abandon plans to push for a vote. Republicans said they could resume work on the bill by May, but as of Thursday, no plans for doing so had been announced.