"I'm kind of tired of wasting Congress's valuable time with haphazard repeal bills," said the panel's ranking member, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who sponsored the CLASS Act in the House. "Repeal at this point accomplishes nothing other than to send a very negative message to the disabled community."
Pallone has expressed disappointment at the administration and urged regulators to continue to look for a way to make the program work. The White House opposes repeal.
"Today, my disappointment is solely directed to my Republican colleagues," Pallone said.
Other Democrats described CLASS Act a "starting point" and lambasted Republicans for failing to offer any alternatives at a time when fewer than 9 million Americans have private long-term care insurance and are having to rely instead on the cash-strapped Medicaid program for low-income people. Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) said he'd introduce an amendment on the House floor to block repeal unless a suitable alternative option is in place.
Republicans were prepared for the accusations.
They acknowledged a long-term care crisis, but said repealing the CLASS Act was the best way forward.
"I don't want to resurrect Dracula," said Rep. Phil GingreyJohn (Phil) Phillip GingreyEx-Tea Party lawmakers turn heads on K Street 2017's top health care stories, from ObamaCare to opioids Beating the drum on healthcare MORE (R-Ga.), who co-sponsored the repeal legislation. "I want to drive a stake through his heart."
The panel's chairman, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), called the notion that repealing the CLASS Act was a vote against people with disabilities a "false choice and a premise that I refuse to accept."
"We do need to solve this problem," said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas). "The CLASS Act is not the way to solve it."
And Rep. Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court rules that pipeline can seize land from New Jersey | Study: EPA underestimated methane emissions from oil and gas development | Kevin McCarthy sets up task forces on climate, other issues Texas Republicans condemn state Democrats for response to official calling Scott an 'Oreo' Americans have decided to give professionals a chance MORE (R-Texas) called the program a "silent threat to the Treasury" that will never work and sets back efforts to address the issue.
The repeal bill now goes to the full committee. A markup there has yet to be scheduled.