WASHINGTON — The Republican-controlled House voted Thursday to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.
With implementation of Obamacare set to begin later this year, the vote is largely symbolic. The Senate is highly unlikely to even take up a vote on repeal.
The House voted for repeal 229-195, with votes cast almost entirely down party lines. Two Democrats voted with Republicans in favor of repeal: Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah and Rep. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina.
This is the third time the House has voted to fully repeal Obamacare, and there have been a number of other votes to repeal parts of it — 37 votes in total.
Boehner explained last week that he was holding the vote again because new members had been asking for the opportunity to vote on repeal.
In the days leading up to the vote, Democrats dismissed the effort as wasteful and unproductive.
“Not only is this a clear waste of time and of taxpayer dollars, it is a deliberate vote to eliminate the affordable quality, health care benefits millions of Americans are already enjoying,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said during a Capitol news conference.
The Obama administration issued a statement ahead of the vote saying it “strongly opposes” repeal because it would hurt the middle class, and “increase the deficit.” Obama would veto the bill if it passed, the statement said.
“The last thing the Congress should do is refight old political battles and take a massive step backward by repealing basic protections that provide security for the middle class,” the Office of Management and Budget statement read. “Right now, the Congress needs to work together to focus on the economy and creating jobs.”
On Tuesday, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said disgustedly that it was “all politics.”
The Republican leadership, however, argued the effort was worthwhile.
“This is the third full repeal vote that we’ve had in the last three years,” House Speaker John Boehner said. “And some critics have suggested that it’s a waste of time. Well, while our goal is to repeal all of Obamacare, I would remind you that the president has signed into law seven different bills that repealed or defunded parts of that law.”
To make his point, Boehner addressed reporters on Thursday next to pages of Obamacare regulations stacked more than seven feet high.
“These are the thousands and thousands of pages of Obamacare regulations,” Boehner said. “And if we want jobs, we need to get rid of this. Because this is getting in the way of employers hiring workers around the country.”
Lawmakers spent the day expounding on the House floor about their various positions, with votes getting pushed off until 6 p.m.
When they were not orating, members took to Twitter to laud or condemn the law using a hashtag started by Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa: #ObamacareInThreeWords.
The sparring got heated, perfectly encapsulating why Republicans are still holding votes to repeal it, and why it will never go anywhere with a Democratic president.
“IRS in control,” tweeted Rep. Michele Bachmann, the sponsor of Thursday’s repeal bill.
“Metastasizing Malignant Tumor,” chimed in Iowa Rep. Steve King.
The White House’s response: “It’s. The. Law.”