By Russell Berman - 01/03/11 10:19 PM EST
House Republicans plan to fulfill a campaign promise and hold a vote next week on repealing the healthcare reform law.
The incoming House majority leader, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), announced Monday that the vote will take place on Jan. 12, one week after Republicans take control of the House.
GOP leaders pledged to “repeal and replace” the healthcare law, but the House will not vote on a separate replacement bill next week. Instead, lawmakers will consider a resolution that instructs three committees to report healthcare legislation. The resolution sets 12 goals for the bill, including lowering healthcare costs and premiums, increasing the number of insured Americans and “to provide people with pre-existing conditions access to affordable health coverage” - a key, popular element of the Democratic healthcare law. The bill, according to the resolution, must not “accelerate the insolvency of entitlement programs or increase the tax burden on Americans.”
"Obamacare is a job killer for businesses small and large, and the top priority for House Republicans is going to be to cut spending and grow the economy and jobs,” Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring said. “Further, ObamaCare failed to lower costs as the president promised that it would and does not allow people to keep the care they currently have if they like it. That is why the House will repeal it next week."
Senate Democrats have already vowed to block a repeal bill from a vote in the upper chamber if it touches the popular “doughnut hole” reforms for Medicare payments. And President Obama would surely veto the bill if it managed to make it to his desk.
Still, the House vote to repeal Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement less than a year after its enactment will resound as a clear symbol of the altered balance of power in the new Congress. With 242 members, House Republicans should be able to pass the bill easily. There are 12 Democrats returning for the 112th Congress who opposed the healthcare bill last March, but two of them — Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Min.) and Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) — told The Hill on Monday that they would not vote to repeal the law.
House Democrats are also devising plans to do what they can to thwart the GOP’s repeal efforts. Incoming minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the outgoing Speaker, said in a Twitter message Monday that “while Dems are focused on job creation, GOP is fast-tracking repealing patients’ right & Rx help for seniors.”
Pelosi and other Democratic leaders will hold a press conference Tuesday to tout their priorities in the new Congress.
Meanwhile, Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) is urging his colleagues to offer amendments to the repeal bill that would protect popular elements of the healthcare law, like a ban on insurance companies denying benefits because of pre-existing conditions.
This article was updated at 8:53 p.m.