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In yet another example of the enormous effort House Republicans have spent attempting to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, ThinkProgress has calculated that the current Republican Conference in the House of Representatives has collectively voted to repeal or defund President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment 7,386 times.
The House Republicans’ approach to Obamacare continues to typify the current “golden age” of dysfunction in Washington. Since gaining control of the House in 2011, Speaker John Boehner has presided over 40 separate votes that would do everything from fully repealing the law, to prohibiting the IRS from funding it, to delaying pieces of it. The New York Times recently estimated that the House has spent an astonishing 15 percent of all of its time on the floor focused on repeal — a span that amounts to over $17 million of Republican members’ salaries since 2011, based on numbers from the Congressional Research Service.
Republicans in the Senate, themselves dysfunction experts, know this repeal effort is not going anywhere. As GOP Senator Richard Burr (NC) explained, “Listen, so long as Barack Obama’s president, the Affordable Care is gonna be law… I think some of these guys need to understand that.” And Ted Cruz, who is immersed in an Obamacare boondoggle of his own, has called them “empty symbolic votes [that] had zero chance of passing.” (He would know.)
Indeed, the House GOP needs Burr, Cruz, their 42 Republican colleagues, and 16 additional Democratic Senators in order to pass a repeal bill. And that’s before President Obama would even get a chance to veto.
What’s worse, though, is that House Republicans acknowledge the legislative futility of their efforts and continue anyway. Just last week GOP Conference Chairwomen Cathy McMorris Rodgers conceded that it is “probably not realistic” to repeal the law, but vowed to continue offering bills that attempt to do just that.
With all this focus on repealing Obamacare, it’s worth considering the legislative agenda put forth by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his February 5 speech “Making Life Work” to see how much progress House Republicans have made on their own priorities. Despite Cantor outlining a number of policy proposals in the speech, just two bills have been voted on and none have become law.
Each of the 7,386 votes against Obamacare is not only a fruitless attempt to undo a law that Congress passed and the Supreme Court upheld. It also represents a conscious effort to allow women face higher premiums than men, to let insurance companies discriminate based on pre-existing conditions, and to deny coverage to Americans. A number of Republican members that have continually voted for repeal represent counties across the country whose citizens would benefit the most from the provisions in the health care law.
Charles Posner is the State Communications Assistant in the ThinkProgress War Room.