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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


GOP lawmakers will procede with health care law repeal efforts

WASHINGTON — House Republicans said Thursday they will proceed with a vote next week to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, igniting a potentially divisive debate amid calls for comity in the aftermath of the Arizona shootings.

The GOP’s decision to reschedule the votes comes as a moderate Democratic group has asked lawmakers to sit intermingled with one another – rather than on partisan sides of the aisle – as a gesture of bipartisan good will during Obama’s upcoming State of the Union speech.

The actions taken together show the delicate balance facing elected officials as they seek to return to the business of governing amid stark partisan policy differences and heed the public’s call for a more civil discourse in the wake of the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in Tuscon that left six dead and 13 injured.

“”As the White House noted, it is important for Congress to get back to work, and to that end we will resume thoughtful consideration of the health care bill next week,”” said Laena Fallon, a spokeswoman for Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the majority leader.

“”It is our expectation that the debate will continue to focus on those substantive policy differences surrounding the new law.””

Democrats appeared resigned that the repeal vote on their signature achievement of the last Congress would be forthcoming. The bill is likely to pass in the House, where Republicans now hold the majority, but is unlikely to advance in the Senate.

Yet as House Republicans were sequestered at their annual retreat in Baltimore, it remained unclear how the GOP’s plans for a likely two-day debate on the health care law could be achieved without devolving into the vitriol that characterized much of partisan discourse these past years.

“”This will be a bit of a road test,”” said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. “”You have to test the water at some time, and people will have to make the decision on how we proceed and how we comport ourselves.””

Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., was gathering support from senators for the proposal to have members of Congress to sit with one another during Obama’s speech Jan. 25.

Members traditionally sit on either side of the chamber with their party, creating high theatrics as one side of the chamber rises in applause, while the other “”sits glumly on their hands and scowls,”” said Matthew Bennett, vice president of Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank that initiated the suggestion.

“”This struck us as a gesture, to be sure, but an important one the public would notice,”” he said.

Democratic leaders were seriously considering the proposal. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., the minority leader, embraced the idea while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the measure was worth “”serious consideration.””

“”We need to look for more ways to be bipartisan,”” Reid said. “”After this tragedy, it’s important for our country to see that we all stand together as Americans and this could be one way to demonstrate that.””

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