DENVER (AP) – Colorado’s Republican-led House on Thursday passed what the GOP calls a new tactic to challenge the federal health care overhaul.
The House voted 33-31, largely along party lines, to call for a state-initiated amendment to the U.S. Constitution repealing last year’s health care law. The resolution is a legal maneuver that would work only if two-thirds of the states pass similar resolutions.
Republicans seemed unfazed by the long odds for the states forcing such a federal amendment.
“We can’t allow the federal government to impose these mandates,” said Republican Rep. David Balmer. He called his resolution a “dramatic response.”
Colorado is among the states suing to challenge parts of the federal health care law in a case that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court later this year.
Democrats in the Colorado House for the most part rolled their eyes at the GOP’s repeal resolution. They took turns pointing out that the law is already being challenged in court and argued the resolution was a partisan waste of time.
“This is a letter to Santa Claus,” scoffed House Democratic Leader Mark Ferrandino. He chastised the GOP for saying they’d work on jobs bills this term, then starting the legislative term with a debate on federal health policy.
“You can question whether this is actually work,” Ferrandino said of the resolution, the first item for debate in 2012.
Republicans insisted the resolution fit their promises to focus on jobs. They argued that the health law will cost jobs, a position to which Democrats vigorously objected.
Many Republicans took turns giving speeches about how awful they consider the health care overhaul. An interesting wrinkle in the debate came as Republican Reps. Amy Stephens and Marsha Looper, primary foes in a conservative district, both rose to decry the health care law.
“We cannot afford an individual mandate. We just cannot afford it,” said Stephens, who is House Republican Leader.
Stephens angered some fellow Republicans last year when she sponsored a state health insurance exchange, which is required under the federal health care law. Stephens has insisted she opposes the health care law but wanted to see Colorado suggest its own exchange rules.
Looper did not attack the health insurance exchange. But she also rose to blast the federal law. She said she was “totally opposed to this overreaching of the federal government.”
The repeal resolution does not require approval by either the Democratic Senate or the Democratic governor. Balmer insisted the resolution was worth passing, perhaps to inspire more states to consider pushing for an amendment.
“If we don’t stand up to the overreach of the federal government, who will?” Balmer asked.
LINK: House Resolution 1003
By KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press
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