Entries in Health Reform Repeal (3)


After Repeal Fails in Senate, GOP Rep Takes on Individual Mandate

Photo Courtesy - mcmorris[dot]house[dot]gov(WASHINGTON) -- After the Senate failed to repeal the Democrats' health care reform law Wednesday evening, and just days after a federal judge ruled that the individual mandate in the health care reform law is unconstitutional, House GOP Vice Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers is introducing a bill Thursday aimed at stopping IRS enforcement of the controversial provision that would require every America buy health insurance or face a fine.

The bill would save taxpayers about $10 billion, according to McMorris Rodgers, by forbidding the IRS from hiring 17,000 new government employees necessary to implement the individual mandate.

“As two federal judges have already ruled, the individual mandate is clearly unconstitutional, and the IRS -- just like every government agency -- has a duty to uphold the Constitution,” said McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington.  “Our bill will protect the constitutional right of every American to decide what health care is best for themselves and their families, while also saving taxpayers about $10 billion by preventing yet another unnecessary increase in the number of government employees.”

As required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by the Democratic Congress and signed into law by President Obama last year, taxpayers must purchase health care insurance by 2014 or face a fine from the IRS.  According to McMorris Rodgers, her bill, H.R. 434, would prevent the IRS from using any funds - now or in the future - to hire new employees to enforce the individual mandate.

It’s the latest assault on the health care bill, which was repealed in the House of Representatives by Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans Jan. 19.

Wednesday night, Senate Democrats successfully blocked a Republican effort to repeal the health care bill with a vote divided strictly down party lines, 51-47. Sixty votes were required to move past a budget point of order in the Senate, a procedural vehicle used by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to move the repeal forward.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson declared that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, and ruled that the entire Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional.

So far, two judges have ruled in favor of the law, and two have struck down its central provision. To date, 28 states are challenging the individual mandate’s constitutionality in court.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Health Care Legal Challenges: What's Next?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) - In the aftermath of US District Court Judge Roger Vinson's ruling on Monday that struck down the entire Affordable Care Act, questions are being raised about whether the law should continue to be implemented in any of the 26 States that were parties to the lawsuit.

While the judge chose not to issue an injunction forcing the federal government to stop implementation, he wrote that his opinion was the "functional equivalent" of such an order. The Obama administration argues that because the Judge did not enjoin the law, it remains the law of the land for all states.

“The decision issued on Monday is one district court decision, and we believe it to be very wrong,” Deputy Senior Advisor Stephanie Cutter wrote in a blog posted on the White House’s website.  “Implementation will continue.”

But officials in some states that are a party to the lawsuit disagree. A spokesperson for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “We are continuing to evaluate the order. The judge clearly stated that the declaratory relief is tantamount to an injunction - this should be respected by the federal government.”

J. B. Van Hollen, Wisconsin’s Attorney General, told the St. Petersburg Times, "For Wisconsin, the federal health care law is dead — unless and until it is revived by an appellate court. Effectively, Wisconsin was relieved of any obligations or duties that were created under terms of the federal health care law."

Critics of the ruling say it is not only wrong, but has sent a confusing message regarding the law’s implementation. Meanwhile, attention is turning to the appellate courts that will be the next judges to rule on the constitutionality of the law.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Congressmen Who Skipped Swearing-In Stall GOP Health Reform Repeal

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two House Republicans Wednesday somehow neglected to get sworn in as new members of Congress.

A photo on the PhillyBurbs website shows Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas with Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania on Capitol Hill, but during the swearing-in ceremony they were not in the House chamber but rather in front of a television in the Capitol Visitors Center.

On Thursday, Sessions and Fitzpatrick were on the House floor, voting and reading the Constitution -- just like every other sworn-in member of Congress. And Sessions helped preside over a hearing of the House Rules Committee on the GOP’s push to repeal the health care law.

But once GOP leaders learned that two of their members weren’t yet legitimate members of Congress, they abruptly stopped the Rules hearing on the health care law.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., was in the chair at the hearing and had just finished welcoming Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., to the witness table when an aide whispered something into Foxx’s ear.

“I am sorry but we need to take a recess,” Foxx suddenly told Andrews.

Andrews was a bit surprised and joked to Foxx that he should not have just thanked her for letting him testify. Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass. -- who was also waiting to testify at the hearing -- was less amused, muttering, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Andrews asked Foxx when the hearing might restart, but Foxx replied, “I am sorry I don’t know an answer to your question. We’ll make it as short as possible.”

And with that, just before 3 p.m., the hearing adjourned -- over an hour later, it had yet to resume.

Jennifer Crider, spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the snafu was no laughing matter.

“When Congressmen-elect Pete Sessions and Mike Fitzpatrick participated in reading parts of the U.S. Constitution on the House floor, Speaker Boehner should have given them Article 6 which requires Members of Congress to be sworn in,” Crider said. “Jokes aside, Congressmen-elect Pete Sessions and Mike Fitzpatrick’s actions raise serious questions: What in the world was more important to Congressmen-elect Pete Sessions and Mike Fitzpatrick than taking the oath of office, committing to support and defend the U.S. Constitution? Why did Speaker Boehner and House Republican leadership allow two people who were not sworn Members of Congress to vote and speak on the House floor? Republicans have spent a lot of time over the past two days proselytizing about House rules, but they don’t seem very keen on actually following the rules.”

Shortly after the Rules committee hearing was stopped, Fitzpatrick and Sessions both appeared back on the House floor and were administered the oath of office by Speaker Boehner.

“During the swearing in of the 112th Congress, Congressman Sessions stated the oath publicly in the Capitol but was not on the House floor,” Davis said. “To ensure that all constitutional and House requirements are fulfilled, Congressman Sessions officially took the oath of office this afternoon from the House floor. Public records and votes will be adjusted accordingly.”

A Republican aide noted that Sessions was present for the quorum call and manual roll call on the election Speaker Boehner, so right now Boehner’s office and the Rules panel are determining the appropriate process to correct the record to reflect Thursday’s oath.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio