Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made clear Thursday that as long as he’s in charge, no effort to repeal the health care law will see the light of day beyond the House, but Senate Democrats said they are open to changing parts of the law over the next year.
“The Republicans have to understand that the health care bill is not going to be repealed,” Reid said. “Are we saying the health care bill is perfect? Of course not. We’re willing to work in any way that’s constructive in nature to improve the health care delivery system in our country, but repealing health care, they should get a new lease on life and talk about something else.”
The new class of House Republicans, many who campaigned on a promise that they would scrap the law forever, are planning a vote on repeal next week.
The move is largely seen as symbolic. But don’t tell that to House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.
The newly minted speaker bristled Thursday morning when asked if his party’s plans to repeal the law in the House were an exercise in futility, knowing that it would never make it past the Democrat-controlled Senate.
“Don’t you think it’s a waste of time?” a reporter asked Boehner.
“No, I do not!” he replied, his baritone voice noticeably a few notches higher than before. “I believe it’s our responsibility to do what we say we’re going to do.”
Introducing bills that everyone knows will fail is nothing new for Congress. In last year’s lame-duck session alone, Reid introduced a flurry of bills to the Senate floor with full knowledge that the vote taken that day would not make it past a Republican filibuster. Boehner’s call for repeal, which he said “is the will of the people,” is merely par for the course in Washington.
That doesn’t mean the health care law in its entirety is here to stay.
“[Republicans] shouldn’t expect the Senate to go along with this kind of wholesale repeal,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said. “A majority in the Senate still believes in health care reform. We also believe that the only perfect law ever enacted was carried down the mountain by Senator Moses. Every other effort has needed some visitation, reconsideration, and this will too.”
The Senate in November rejected two separate proposals that would have changed the health care law’s requirement that requires all businesses to file a 1099 tax form when transactions totaling more than $600 are made over the course of a year. Reid, Durbin, and one of the bill’s lead sponsors, Republican Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska, have signaled a willingness to pursue another reform of the measure.
Beyond changing the 1099 requirement, neither Durbin or Reid mention other specific measures within the law they would be open to altering.