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House panel passes bills to give Congress control of healthcare reform

Republicans on a House health subcommittee voted Thursday to strip federal officials of their power to pay for parts of the healthcare reform law without having to go through Congress.

Democrats said the GOP's goal was simply to defund the law.

All the votes in the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee passed along party lines. Even if the cuts make it through the full committee and onto the floor, they're unlikely to clear the Democratic-controlled Senate.

"If we are going to get our spending under control, we must set limits, we must eliminate slush funds, and we must prioritize our spending decisions," Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in opening remarks. "These five bills are an important way to begin."

The votes were to repeal federal officials' ability to directly fund:

• Grants for states to establish health insurance exchanges;

• The prevention and public health fund ($17.75 billion for fiscal 2012 through 2021);

• Grants to support the construction of school-based health centers;

• Grants for personal responsibility education programs ($75 million for each of fiscal 2010 through 2014); and

• Development grants for teaching health centers ($230 million for fiscal 2011 through 2015).