After House Republicans scheduled a vote next week on health care repeal, Senate Democrats issued a sharply worded letter to Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-OH) warning him that the effort will be in vain.
Describing the repeal measure as “irresponsible and reckless,” top Democrats wrote: “If House Republicans move forward with a repeal of the health care law that threatens consumer benefits like the ‘donut hole’ fix, we will block it in the Senate. This proposal deserves a chance to work. It is too important to be treated as collateral damage in a partisan mission to repeal health care.”
The letter, issued Monday, followed remarks by incoming Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) describing the law as “a job-killer for businesses small and large,” on the week the new Congress is sworn in. Republicans have scheduled the vote for Jan. 12.
The early partisan skirmish foreshadows what looks to be a long and bitter fight during the 112th Congress over the implementation of the sweeping health care whose passage faced a long and bitter fight of its own.
The new Republican majority of 241-194 in the House is likely to make good on the party’s promise to tea party faithful during the midterm elections about fully repealing the measure, which has been lambasted by conservatives.
But the GOP remains in the minority by a 53-47 margin in the Senate, making repeal efforts highly unlikely to gain traction in the upper chamber, where Democrats have staked their political futures on the ambitious law that’s projected to insure 94 percent of Americans and cut the deficit by 2020.
Even if a repeal effort somehow makes its way through the Senate, President Barack Obama is all but certain to veto it.
The letter was signed by five leading Democrats in the Senate: Harry Reid (NV), Dick Durbin (IL), Chuck Schumer (NY), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Debbie Stabenow (MI).
“We urge you to consider the unintended consequences that the law’s repeal would have on a number of popular consumer protections that help middle class Americans,” the Democrats wrote, focusing on the need to protect seniors from higher prescription drug costs.
The health care law also faces a threat from the courts, as a Republican-appointed judge recently ruled its individual mandate unconstitutional. The case is said to be likely to reach the Supreme Court.