Wednesday night’s vote on the full repeal of Obamacare in the senate came and went without much fanfare. Republicans, long resigned to a negative outcome, ended up with no Democratic votes. Repeal failed, 47 to 51.
Afterwards, the GOP leadership filed into the senate press gallery to trumpet their one success of the night – a successful vote (81 to 17) on an amendment offered by Sen. Mike Johanns (R., Neb.) to repeal the law’s highly unpopular 1099 tax requirement.
“When you get 81 votes on something that we could hardly get through in the past, that’s pretty impressive,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah). “Yes we were unsuccessful today but we do know where everybody stands.”
Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.) also touted the steady progress Republicans had made since Obamacare was “jammed through” last year. “We’ve made some headway,” Thune said. “A year ago when we had this vote we got 40 votes, today we got 47 votes.”
“Elections do have consequences,” he continued. “I think the Democrats are still in denial about what the public believes.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) dismissed accusations that the repeal vote was a “futile act” because it didn’t stand a chance of passing. “These are the first steps on a long road that will culminate in 2012, whereby we will expose the flaws and the weaknesses in this legislation,” he said. “Sen. Johanns has pointed out just one of these flaws and there are many more that will be exposed as we go.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) echoed this sentiment. “This is just the beginning,” he said. “We’ll be going back at it in a variety of different ways.” He mentioned defunding as well as legislation introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), which would allow states to ‘opt out’ of individual provisions of the law, as possible avenues the GOP would pursue.
Contrary to the criticism from the left, McConnell said, the repeal effort was primarily about jobs and strengthening the economy. “Nothing has had a bigger impact on slowing our effort to get out of this stagnant economy than [Obamacare],” he said. “The private sector is being crushed by excessive government spending.”