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Democratic Senate derails bid to repeal healthcare

by Adam Russett on February 3, 2011

The Democratic-led U.S. Senate voted down the GOP's healthcare repeal law on Wednesday, voting 51 to 47 to keep the Obama administration's system that aims to provide universal health coverage.

The vote came two days after a federal judge ruled that the year-old law was unconstitutional in that it requires all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a fine. The Obama administration vowed to appeal the ruling.

All Senate Republicans voted unanimously for the repeal, though they would have needed 60 votes in order to advance the bill to the next stage of the legislative process, The New York Times reports.

"They want to replace patients' rights with insurance companies' power. They want to replace health with sickness. They want to replace the promise of tomorrow with the pain of yesterday," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Reuters.

Republicans maintained their counter-arguments, exemplified by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "The case against this bill is more compelling every day. Everything we learn tells us it was a bad idea. That it should be repealed and replaced. The courts say so. The American people say so," he told the news source.

While the complete repeal failed, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle joined forces to repeal an unpopular tax provisions. Most Democrats and all Republicans voted 81 to 17 to scrap the law that imposes a heavy tariff on small businesses, the Times reports.

The bid to rescind the healthcare law had recently gained momentum after it was passed by the Republican-led House. Because the Senate voted against it, the fate of the bill will ultimately be in the hands of the Supreme Court, and the process may take over a year, according to the news source.

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