Delegations from Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey voted along party lines on a bill to repeal health-care reforms Wednesday.
The vote is largely symbolic; it will, in all likelihood, be blocked by the Democratic-controlled Senate, but it is seen as the beginning of a long slog toward compromises on the health-care overhaul.
During arguments on the House floor, Democrats, including Rep. Rob Andrews from the 1st District of New Jersey, focused on patients who are already being helped by the law.
“If a woman with breast cancer or a man with diabetes loses his job or her job and tries to get another job, under the law that’s in effect, the insurance company can’t deny them coverage or charge them more for it because of their pre-existing condition,” Andrews said. “This bill repeals that protection.”
Republicans stressed claims that the law will hurt job creation and stifle small businesses. Many referenced the vote as the reason they’d been elected in November.
The tone was more subdued than many previous debates, but the partisan rhetoric ramped up as the day wore on. Republican Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia likened the mandated reform to demands of an overbearing monarch.
“We did not accept the chains of George the Third,” Griffith said. “Nor will we accept the chains of Obamacare.”
While House members were debating, President Barack Obama said he would work with lawmakers on compromises to the reforms that passed last year. He said they shouldn’t be moving backward with a repeal.
Rep. Tim Holden of the 17th District of Pennsylvania was one of 13 Democrats to vote against health-care reforms last year. Holden, who was re-elected in November, did not vote for repeal.