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Health care reform: House marches toward repeal vote

Health care reform law is top target of the new GOP House majority. But critics say GOP leaders set aside their pledges of fiscal restraint and openness in pushing forward on vote to repeal it.

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House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio (r.) and House majority leader Eric Cantor of Virginia held a news conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, as they pushed forward toward an up or down House vote on repealing the new health care reform law.

Alex Brandon/AP

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After promising a new era of openness and fiscal restraint, House Republicans veered from that standard on the first big vote of the new Congress: the repeal of health-care reform.

The powerful Rules Committee on Thursday vetted dozens of amendments, mainly from Democrats, but rejected all but one on party-line votes, eliminating the possibility of changes to legislation on the floor and leaving Democrats crying foul. [Editor's note: This paragraph has been changed from the original to account for an accepted amendment.]

GOP leaders also rejected calls to offset the cost of repeal, estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to be $230 billion over the next 10 years – more than double the spending cuts that the new GOP majority aims to pare from spending bills for fiscal year 2011. The CBO’s preliminary estimate of the cost of repeal, released Thursday, also projects that repeal would leave 32 million more Americans uninsured.

The full House on Friday accepted that rule, setting the terms for next week's floor debate and ensuring the final vote will be a straight up or down one. The Friday vote in favor of those terms was 236 to 181, falling mainly along partisan lines.

Responding to criticism that this rule violates a key GOP pledge, Rep. David Drier (R) of California, who chairs the Rules Committee, said: "There is nothing to amend to the repeal bill. Either we’re going to wipe the slate clean and start fresh or we’re not."

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