WASHINGTON (BP)--Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives kept a promise Wednesday they made before the November election, voting to repeal the health-care reform law enacted last year.
The House voted 245-189 for the Repealing the Job-killing Health Care Law Act, H.R. 2., with all 242 Republicans joining three Democrats in voting for the bill and 189 Democrats opposing it.
Foes of the law -- dubbed "Obamacare" by critics -- have consistently called for its repeal since its enactment.
The opposition has been based on a variety of concerns.
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and other pro-life organizations oppose the health-care reform law because it authorizes subsidies for insurance plans that cover abortion. Additional reasons for the strong disapproval by the ERLC and others of the law include its mandate that Americans purchase health insurance, the greater government involvement in medical care, and what they say is the likelihood of an increase in both the federal deficit and taxes.
ERLC President Richard Land applauded the House's vote Wednesday.
"The vote in the House today to repeal Obamacare is a major step in the direction of restoring the American people's trust in their government," Land said. "The Republicans promised that if elected they would do this, and they have done it within a fortnight of becoming the majority.
"This is a significant first step toward total repeal of Obamacare and its replacement with the health-care reform that we truly need and will serve our country and its highest ideals," he said.
The victory appears certain to be short-lived. The Democratic leadership is committed to blocking repeal in the Senate. Obama would veto the bill if it were to reach his desk.
House Republicans, however, have indicated they will target specific provisions in the health-care reform law for change if their repeal effort fails.
In March, the health-care law cleared its last major hurdle when the House voted 219-212 for one of the two bills that made up the reform package. The clinching votes for the massive bill were gained when a group of avowedly pro-life Democrats withdrew their opposition, which previously had been based on abortion-funding concerns, in exchange for an Obama executive order that supposedly would have prevented federal support for the procedure.
Pro-life advocates inside and outside the House, however, rejected the proposed executive order as ineffective. They pointed out the president could rescind his order at any time and contended the federal courts would rule in favor of the language in the law, not that in the executive order.
On Jan. 18, Land wrote Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor in support of the repeal attempt. He said Obama's executive order "is insufficient to block federal funding of abortion under health care."
The ERLC supports "health care reform that would preserve the private nature of our health care system while reducing costs, maintaining the highest possible standard of care, and ensuring that federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortion," Land wrote. "Unfortunately, the enacted last year fall well short of these ideals."
On Jan. 7, the House had a preliminary roll call on the repeal bill, voting 236-181 for a rule governing its consideration. Four Democrats -- Dan Boren of Oklahoma; Larry Kissell and Mike McIntyre, both of North Carolina, and Mike Ross of Arkansas -- voted with the Republican majority at that time.
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief of Baptist Press.
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