Vulnerable Dems on hot seat as failure looms on healthcare repeal

Vulnerable Dems on hot seat as failure looms on healthcare repeal

The Republican effort to bring down President Obama's healthcare reform law is expected to fail by party lines later Wednesday, but the vote will put vulnerable incumbents on the hot seat in a debate that will likely dominate the election cycle.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Republicans are headed for a disappointing end to their year in power Obama's HHS secretary could testify in Menendez trial MORE (D-Nev.) said the vote on Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE's (R-Ky.) amendment would take place in the late afternoon, between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., because many senators want to speak on it.

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Democrats will raise a budget point-of-order objection against the repeal amendment on the grounds that it would add an estimated $230 billion to the deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

McConnell would need the support of every Republican senator plus at least 13 Democrats to muster the 60 votes necessary to waive the objection.

He called the budget estimate "preposterous."

“I mean, only in Washington would somebody claim that spending trillions of dollars on a brand-new government entitlement and a massive bureaucracy to go along with it will save money,” McConnell said during a Wednesday morning floor speech.

The Senate will also vote Wednesday on an amendment offered by Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowDems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada Red-state Dems need more from Trump before tax embrace Stabenow: ‘Kid Rock might actually win the Republican primary’ MORE (D-Mich.), who could face a tough race in 2012, to repeal one of the healthcare law’s most controversial provisions. Stabenow’s amendment would strike a requirement that businesses report to the IRS vendor payments exceeding $600 annually.

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Crying on TV doesn't qualify Kimmel to set nation's gun agenda Trump knocks ‘fake’ news coverage of his trip to Puerto Rico MORE (D-N.Y.), vice chairman of the Senate Democratic Conference, said the proposal to repeal the so-called 1099 reporting requirement “has overwhelming support.”

“There is a basic agreement on both sides of the aisle that 1099 should be repealed,” he said.

Both proposals are amendments to the Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill.

Stabenow’s amendment will give political cover to endangered Democrats such as West Virginia Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: EPA aims to work more closely with industry Overnight Finance: Lawmakers grill Equifax chief over hack | Wells Fargo CEO defends bank's progress | Trump jokes Puerto Rico threw budget 'out of whack' | Mortgage tax fight tests industry clout Lawmakers try again on miners’ pension bill MORE (D), who have called for the healthcare reform law to be fixed but do not plan to support McConnell’s proposal to repeal it.

“The president’s plan — ‘Obamacare,’ as it’s been called — is far too reaching. It’s overreaching. It needs to have a lot of it repealed,” Manchin said in October. “If you can’t fix that, repeal the whole thing.”

Manchin said through a spokeswoman Tuesday that he would not vote to repeal the entire law, however.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGun proposal picks up GOP support Durbin: I had 'nothing to do' with Curbelo snub Republicans jockey for position on immigration MORE (Ill.) said he felt confident the Democratic conference would stay unified, though he did not guarantee every Democrat would vote against repeal.

A senior GOP aide said McConnell’s amendment would put Democrats “on the record as hurting job creators.”

Voting for McConnell’s amendment could also open Republican candidates, such as Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (Maine), to political scrutiny.

“They are going to have a hard time explaining why they voted to repeal the most popular consumer protections in the law,” said a Senate Democratic aide.

Democrats argue that McConnell’s amendment would strike down provisions barring insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing medical conditions and letting children stay on their parents’ health insurance policy until age 26.

Republicans have circulated letters from trade associations endorsing repeal.

Groups including the Associated Builders and Contractors, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the National Federation of Independent Business wrote a letter dated Feb. 1 warning that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will stifle job growth.

“The PPACA will cost jobs as businesses cope with the new costs imposed on them, a profile that is magnified by an economy only now beginning to find its way out of a deep and lengthy recession and still struggling to create jobs,” the groups wrote.

Schumer, who has taken over Senate Democrats' communications strategy, has decided that a strong offense can serve as effective defense of vulnerable incumbents in the healthcare debate.

Schumer scheduled a press conference Wednesday to call on Senate Republicans who vote to repeal healthcare reform to give up the government-subsidized benefits they receive as members of Congress.

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada Mandel leads GOP primary for Ohio Senate seat: internal poll Red-state Dems need more from Trump before tax embrace MORE (D-Ohio) accused Republicans of hypocrisy in a floor speech.

“I think about conservative politicians who have been the beneficiaries — they and their families have been the beneficiaries of taxpayer-financed health insurance for their whole careers,” he said. “Now they want to take benefits away from voters and citizens and families in my state."

Reid said in a floor speech that Republicans “want to take away patients’ rights that they already have, rights that are saving lives, saving money and saving Medicare.”