One day after House Republicans scheduled a vote to repeal health reform, a leading Democrat challenged GOP lawmakers to stand on principle and refuse the government health care provided to them.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) argued Tuesday that Republicans seeking to prevent uninsured Americans from receiving government-subsidized health care shouldn't accept federal benefits for themselves or their families.
"It seems unfair that house Republicans want to deprive middle-class Americans of the same health care as members of Congress but to keep it for themselves," Schumer (D-NY) told Politico's Ben Smith.
He added: "It was a central value to us when we passed health care, and a central value to the American people, that members of Congress should get the same health care as everyone else.
Republicans have staked their fierce opposition to the sweeping health care law -- a key plank in their 2010 platform -- in part on the belief that the federal government should not subsidize insurance to expand coverage.
Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) called the measure "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."
"Will Eric Cantor urge every Republican who is going to be for repeal to not take government health care themselves and to drop their existing health care?" Schumer said.
The sharp words from the Senate's third-ranking Democrat reflect the party's pushback against the coming Republican onslaught to derail the reforms, as Democrats have been badly bruised by a ferocious and successful GOP messaging campaign to cast the law in a negative light.
Three newly-elected Republicans -- Joe Walsh of Illinois, Bobby Schilling of Illinois and Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania -- have pledged not to accept health care from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program that grants high-quality insurance options to members of Congress.
Republican leaders have declined to take the same pledge.
"I don't agree with [Walsh's] views on health care, but at least he is being fair and consistent," Schumer said.