WASHINGTON, D.C.-Voting strictly on party lines, Republicans in the U.S. Senate failed by a vote of 51-47 to overturn the nation's new health care law, passed by Democrat's last year.
Emboldened by a U.S. District court ruling in Florida earlier this week that overturned the health care law in its entirety, GOP leaders forced a vote on the repeal amendment Wednesday but were unable to muster the necessary numbers to defeat it.
All Republican senators from Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama voted to repeal the law.
While most congressional analysts expected the repeal effort to fail because Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, Republicans say the vote is still important to get on record.
"Most of our members campaigned on the idea that we would repeal the health care law and replace it with a bill that actually reduced health care costs so that more Americans can afford to buy insurance," Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Wednesday.
With the 112th Congress not even a month old, Democrats accused the GOP of breaking a campaign promise by moving prematurely on its effort to change the health care law.
"They haven't come up with a replacement," said Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer. D-N.Y. "It used to be 'repeal and replace,' but there is no 'replace.' So if they have their way, there will be no health care for millions and millions of Americans."
Republicans say accusations that their party has no plans for replacing the law are erroneous and point to numerous GOP health care proposals offered in speeches on the Senate floor leading up to the repeal vote.
A bipartisan amendment to unwind one portion of the health care law passed by an 81-17 vote.
The provision would strip a piece of the health care law that would have forced any business-small or large-to fill out a 1099 form with the Internal Revenue Service every time it spent more than $600 with a vendor in a fiscal year.
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HOW THEY VOTED
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.-Yes
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.-Yes
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.-Yes
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.-Yes