With a Supreme Court decision on healthcare fast approaching, House Republicans are doubling down on efforts to bring attention to President Obama’s signature legislative issue.
The effort, which includes votes on several measures to repeal taxes under the law, is intended to highlight unpopular aspects of the landmark bill as the presidential campaign between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney heats up.
House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorChamber of Commerce overhauls lobbying operation Laura Ingraham under consideration for White House press secretary VA Dems jockey for Kaine's seat MORE (R-Va.) announced the votes late last month, and called the tax on medical devices in particularly “draconian” in a memo sent to GOP lawmakers.
Democrats argue the GOP effort is nakedly political and timed for the Supreme Court decision, which is expected this month. On Friday, Romney criticized Obama’s handling of the economy, arguing the nation would be creating more jobs if Obama had not focused on healthcare in 2009 and 2010.
Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) – a key player in brokering deals within his party to pass the healthcare bill – called the upcoming debate a “waste of time” and said the House should be focus on legislation to create jobs.
“(The timing) is probably not coincidental, I think the Republicans are trying to poison the well before the Court decision,” Andrews said in an interview with The Hill.
House Republicans, who rode a wave of voter outrage into power in 2010 unfurled in part by the healthcare law, dismiss the Democratic arguments.
“Well, I'm glad they are giving us that much credit in planning but obviously the medical tax bill has had a lot of bipartisan support for many weeks,” Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) told The Hill.
Only two Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee, Reps. Ron KindRon KindJunior Dems plot strategy as leadership vote looms Ryan: Pacific deal can't be fixed in time for lame-duck vote House Democrat expects support to grow for Pacific trade deal MORE (Wis.) and Shelly Berkley (Nev.) supported the medical device and over-the-counter drug bills at mark-up.
Debate at Thursday’s lengthy mark-up provided a flavor of what to expect when the measures hit the floor mid-week.
Republicans argued that the tax-repeal bills will create and save jobs in the medical device industry.
Veteran Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Jim McDermottJim McDermottLevin will step down as top Democrat on Ways and Means House passes bill exempting some from ObamaCare mandate Government to step in if insurance companies don't offer affordable health care choices MORE (Wash.) scoffed at the GOP’s “job creation” argument, calling the idea “nonsense.”
“It is not going to save jobs because you don't know what the impact is in fact, the evidence is that it doesn't lose jobs,” the liberal lawmaker told his colleagues.