Hoyer votes against Dems on procedure

The second-ranking House Democrat, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), cast a surprising vote against his party leadership Wednesday when he opposed the Democratic procedural motion aimed at blocking the repeal of the healthcare law.

The second-ranking House Democrat, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), cast a surprising vote against his party leadership Wednesday when he opposed the Democratic procedural motion aimed at blocking the repeal of the healthcare law.

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Hoyer was one of just five Democrats to oppose the measure, known as a motion to recommit, which would have required a majority of members of the House and Senate to waive their federal health benefits for the repeal of the healthcare law to take effect. The motion was offered by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) as part of the Democrats’ effort to highlight what they say is hypocrisy by Republicans who want to reduce access to health insurance for ordinary Americans while accepting taxpayer-funded coverage from the federal government.

Because general amendments were not allowed on the healthcare repeal bill, the motion to recommit was the only opportunity Democrats had to change the legislation.

Hoyer did not address the vote, and his office refused to provide a detailed explanation for his opposition. A spokesman suggested, however, that the wording of the Andrews motion could be construed as supporting the repeal bill as long as the condition of lawmakers rejecting federal health coverage was met.

“Mr. Hoyer strongly supports the Affordable Care Act and there are no conditions under which he would support repeal going forward,” the spokesman, Daniel Reilly, said.

The four Democrats who joined Hoyer in opposing the motion to recommit were Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.), Heath Shuler (N.C.), Mike Ross (Ark.) and C.A. Ruppersberger (Md.). Boren and Ross also voted with Republicans on the repeal bill itself.

Hoyer’s vote is extraordinary not only as a defection by a key party leader, but also because Democrats have waged a coordinated effort to spotlight the issue of Republican members accepting government health insurance.

Here is the text of the motion to recommit: Section 2 (including the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111–148)) shall not take effect unless and until the Director of the Office of Personnel Management certifies to the Congress that a majority of the Members of the House of Representatives and a majority of Members of the Senate have, as of the date that is 30 days after the date of initial passage of this Act in the respective House, voluntarily and permanently withdrawn from any participation, and waived all rights to participate, as such a Member in the federally funded Federal employees health benefits program 3 (FEHBP) under chapter 89 of title 5, United States 4 Code, effective with the first month after the date of execution of such a withdrawal and waiver.