House Republicans Launch All-Out Assault on Health Care law
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Republicans launched an all-out assault Tuesday against President Barack Obama's signature health care reform law, holding a series of committee hearings and other events ahead of a planned vote Wednesday on repealing the measure.
Any House repeal effort is sure to die in the Democratic-led Senate, and the White House made clear Obama would veto such a measure.
However, the day-long attacks on the 2010 Affordable Care Act seek to ignite public opposition to the law and force Democrats to publicly defend it.
The vote Wednesday will be the latest in a series of dozens of House GOP efforts to undermine the health care law, including previous Republican-led moves to repeal the measure or cut funding for various provisions. Even when passed by the House, the measures have mostly died in the Senate.
Wednesday's vote will be the first since last month's Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the act known as Obamacare. Before it takes place, three House panels will examine the impact of the health care law on the economy and the health care industry at hearings scheduled by the Republican leadership.
Obama and Democrats say the June 28 high court ruling should have ended the political debate over the health care law, rather than revive the Republican repeal effort.
"The Supreme Court has spoken," Obama told supporters at a campaign event Friday in Pittsburgh. "The law we passed is here to stay."
But Republicans, led by certain presidential nominee Mitt Romney, call for eliminating the law and starting over on the complex issue that affects every American.
"This has to be ripped out by its roots," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told CBS in an interview last week.
The White House formally notified House leaders Monday night that Obama will veto any repeal bill that manages to reach his desk, saying repeal "would cost millions of hard-working middle class families the security of affordable health coverage and care they deserve."
"The last thing the Congress should do is re-fight old political battles and take a massive step backward by repealing basic protections that provide security for the middle class," a White House statement said. "Right now, the Congress needs to work together to focus on the economy and creating jobs."
Even with no chance of achieving repeal, the House vote gives Republicans another chance to demonstrate their opposition to Obamacare and puts many Democrats facing re-election in November on record of supporting the controversial measure.
The GOP's conservative base vehemently opposes the individual mandate in the law that requires people to obtain health insurance or pay a fine.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court said the mandate was constitutional under the government's taxing authority, and Republicans have jumped on that to characterize the provision as a tax increase on middle-class Americans.
Obama and Democrats respond that only people who can afford health insurance but choose not to get it would have to pay, amounting to about 1% of the population.
The health care issue has been among the most divisive of Obama's presidency. Conservative anger over the measure helped launch the tea party movement, and conservative groups joined with industry groups to fund a giant public pressure campaign against the legislation, which Democrats pushed through Congress with no Republican support.
Opponents contend the health care law represents a dramatic government intrusion in the health care industry that will end up increasing costs for consumers and driving up budget deficits.
Supporters say the reforms are necessary to ensure that all Americans have access to health coverage. They note some provisions already have brought benefits, such as preventing insurance companies from denying coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, and that the comprehensive approach is needed as a long-term strategy that will reshape the industry to control spiraling health care costs and improve overall care.
On Monday, the Democratic campaign arm for the U.S. House of Representatives released a series of new online ads attacking some House Republicans over their opposition to the health care law. The ads target seven House Republicans considered vulnerable in November by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
"House Republicans are sending an unmistakable message to voters that Republicans want to cut benefits for middle class families and protect insurance companies instead," DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement. "The American people don't want more of these political stunts from Republicans to pander to special interests, they want action to strengthen the middle class and create jobs."
-- CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Tom Cohen and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.