Later in the debate, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) noted that similar constitutional arguments were raised against the Social Security Act, but that these arguments were defeated.

The constitutionality of the law is widely expected to be decided not by members of Congress, but by the Supreme Court. A federal judge in Virginia ruled that the so-called individual mandate is unconstitutional, a decision that most expect will be reviewed in the nation's highest court. Two other judges have ruled in favor of the law so far.

Judiciary Committee members were debating the healthcare repeal bill, H.R. 2, just after members of the House Budget Committee debated the measure. House Small Business Committee members were leading the debate as of about 4:30 p.m., and the debate was expected to continue into Wednesday before a vote.