Is this week's House vote to repeal ACA merely symbolic?

By Tom Sullivan
11:08 AM

It may take until November before Wednesday’s House hearing on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act results in anything more than political grandstanding by anti-Obamacare Representatives – which won’t stop some Senators from trying to follow suit and holding their own vote.

"This is to make it crystal clear to the American people that really the final decision is in their hands,” Rep Tom Cole, (R-Oklahoma) said of the House session slated for Wednesday.

And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said he is hoping to have another chance to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the Senate. "I would remind you all that we had that vote in 2011. Every single Republican voted to repeal it,” The Hill reports McConnell saying at a press conference Tuesday. “We believe it's appropriate to have that vote again and we'll be working to get that kind of vote in the near future."

[See also: After the Supreme Court, it's time for a Health IT Orthodoxy 2.0.]

And, then, let’s just say that both the House and Senate vote for a bill to repeal the ACA, well, President Obama would veto that. Which has Democrats asking: Why hold another repeal vote when politicians have already voted on it so many times previously and, now, the Supreme Court has upheld it as constitutional.

Rep. Louise Slaughter, (D-NY) said Tuesday on the House floor that, “Never in the history of this Congress has anybody voted this many times on a single issue. And why? Because we don't have anything else to do."

Echoing a rampant Republican sentiment by calling Obamacare “nothing short of economic malpractice,” Rep Nan Hayworth (R-NY) added, according to a CBS report, that “we can and must do better.”

That notion has Republicans toeing the Romney line this week and saying that the only way to repeal the ACA is to vote Obama out of the White House. While Romney has been mostly quiet about healthcare leading up to the House vote, Obama said on the campaign trail that the health reform law is the “right thing to do."

[Related: Why standard campaign tactics don't apply to healthcare.]

But is all this just a political exercise in futility and waste simply to make a point?

“I think it’s more than symbolic,” Cole, the Oklahoma Rep. said. “Look, we’re going to actually see some Democrats who voted against repeal the last time move and join us. Plus, you’ll see obviously every single Republican vote ‘no.’ It makes clear what a partisan bill this is, how unpopular it is, and the opposition is bi-partisan. Only the support is partisan.”

Whether or not that’s true will be borne out on the House floor, to be certain. Among the American public, however, a Washington Post/ABC News Poll found that since the Supreme Court ruling, voter support for the ACA has undergone “a sizable swing” from 39 in favor and 53 against to an even split of 47-47.

“While opinion tilts narrowly against the ruling, only 33 percent support repealing the whole law, which is Mitt Romney’s position and will get a vote in the House this week,” wrote Greg Sargent in the Washington Post’s Plum Line blog. “Thirty percent support repealing unspecified parts of it — which could reflect dislike of the mandate.”

For more of our politics coverage, visit Political Malpractice: Healthcare in the 2012 Election