WASHINGTON — US lawmakers began five contentious hours of debate Tuesday over repealing the health care law, with Republicans insisting there is bipartisan support for wiping President Barack Obama’s landmark reforms from the books.
Democrats have slammed the effort — the 31st vote to repeal part or all of the Affordable Care Act — as a political show, but acknowledged it’s all but certain to pass the House of Representatives when it reaches the floor Wednesday.
“We’re going to lose. Republicans are going to vote in lockstep,” the number two House Democrat Steny Hoyer told reporters before lawmakers took to the floor to make their cases for or against the reforms that were signed into law in 2010 and upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court late last month.
Hoyer also acknowledged there would be some Democratic defectors who will vote for repeal.
“I think we’ll lose some as we did before, not a lot,” he said, referring to a vote in early 2011. The number could be higher Wednesday, with some Democrats in heated battles for November re-election in swing states.
Republicans, however, are touting the defections as a sign of broader discontent with Obama’s reforms.
“There will be Democrats joining Republicans in the repeal,” the top Republican vote-corraller in the House, Kevin McCarthy, told reporters.
“Democrats are hearing back home this bill is hurting small businesses.”
Republicans say “Obamacare” is placing unfair financial burdens on small companies whose costs they say are rising under the health care law, charges the White House and Democrats refute.
Wednesday’s vote is largely symbolic. Democrats control the Senate, and Obama wields a powerful presidential veto pen.
Even so, top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell was mindful of last year’s Senate vote to repeal, which failed but saw every Republican vote in favor of ending Obama’s signature health reforms, and said he was pursuing a similar bill again.
“We believe it’s appropriate to have that vote again and we’ll be working to get that kind of vote in the near future,” McConnell said.
Congresswoman Nan Hayworth said that while she lauded the goals of the Affordable Care Act in seeking to bring the world’s richest economy several steps closer to universal health care, “it is not the time for Washington… to impose $2 trillion worth of federally generated cost at a time when we have a massive debt that we already can not afford.”
The health care law, she said, “is nothing short of economic malpractice.”
Such was the tone on the House floor, where Democrat Edward Markey slammed the “Republican reflux” of futile hammering against a bill Democrats argue most Americans don’t want repealed.
Health care reform is now enshrined “right alongside Social Security and Medicare,” he said of two cherished entitlement programs.
“And yet, the Republicans keep trying to take away or take apart the benefits of this law.”
Disney heiress who went undercover to Disneyland ‘livid’ at conditions and pay
Heiress Abigail Disney went to one of her family's resorts to see conditions for workers herself and was disgusted by what she saw.
In comments to Yahoo News podcast "Through Her Eyes," Disney described how she went to Disneyland in California undercover and found that workers at the resort were treated poorly—and underpaid.
"Every single one of these people I talked to were saying, 'I don't know how I can maintain this face of joy and warmth when I have to go home and forage for food in other people's garbage,'" said Disney.
Ex-Peru president wanted for corruption arrested in the US
Former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo was arrested in the United States Tuesday to face extradition to his home country on corruption charges, authorities in the South American nation said.
The 73-year-old is suspected of involvement in the sprawling Odebrecht scandal in which the construction giant paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes throughout the continent to secure huge public works contracts.
The Peruvian attorney general's office announced on Twitter that Toledo "was arrested this morning for extradition, in the United States."
Toledo has been formally charged with receiving a $20 million payment from Odebrecht to grant it the tender to build the Interoceanic Highway that links Peru with Brazil.
Comic-Con mines past for future hits on 50th edition
A smorgasbord of sequels, prequels and reunions from "Terminator" to "Game of Thrones" awaits thousands of misty-eyed comic book geeks and sci-fi nerds descending on San Diego this week for the world's largest celebration of pop culture fandom.
The 50th edition of Comic-Con International will see 135,000 cosplayers, bloggers, movie executives and humble fans pile into a sweaty convention center for glimpses of their heroes, in town to promote the next mega-hit films, TV shows and comic books.
This anniversary edition promises to be more nostalgia-laden than most -- among those expected to appear are Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, who will soon reunite on screen for the first time since 1991's "Terminator 2" for Paramount's killer cyborg sequel "Dark Fate."