Senate to Vote on Repeal of Health Care Reform Law

BY David Chalian  February 2, 2011 at 7:55 AM EST

American Grass Roots Coalition and the Tea Party Express demonstration

People demonstrate against the health care reform bill last year in Washington. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

As most of official Washington keeps its eyes on the streets of Cairo, the Senate on Wednesday will continue its ongoing debate over President Obama’s health care reform law.

Two days after a federal judge in Florida ruled the law unconstitutional, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., plans to chair a Judiciary Committee hearing at 10 a.m. entitled, “The Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.”

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Sen. Durbin said that Judge Roger Vinson’s ruling “indicates to me there are important constitutional questions” surrounding the health care reform law. He also pointed to historic examples of court challenges to big pieces of legislation (minimum wage, civil rights) in which the legislation survived.

“Ultimately, I think the Supreme Court needs to take this up,” Sen. Durbin added.

Following the committee room action, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s health care repeal amendment (to the FAA bill that is currently on the floor) will get a vote Wednesday afternoon. Sen. McConnell said all 47 members of his conference will vote for the repeal amendment, but nobody seems to believe there will be sufficient votes for passage.

In the 26 states immediately affected by Judge Vinson’s ruling there seems to be different approaches to implementation.

This call for clarity will no doubt help fuel Wednesday’s debates both in the committee room and on the floor of the Senate.

MEETING WITH MCCAIN

President Obama will sit down Wednesday afternoon with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., his GOP rival from the 2008 presidential campaign.

The White House announced the closed-door, Oval Office meeting late Tuesday but released no details about what would be discussed.

Their conversation comes a little more than two weeks after Sen. McCain penned an editorial in the Washington Post praising the president’s remarks at a Tucson memorial service honoring the victims of last month’s shooting rampage that left six dead and 13 wounded.

Sen. McCain not only called for a more civil discourse, he seemed to defend the president from some of his harshest critics. “I disagree with many of the president’s policies, but I believe he is a patriot sincerely intent on using his time in office to advance our country’s cause,” he wrote.

If the editorial was Sen. McCain extending an olive branch to the president, then perhaps the invitation to meet Wednesday is a sign the president has accepted the offer.

Also on the president’s schedule Wednesday: signing the New START Treaty and meeting with Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., to discuss energy policy.

STEELE VS. STEELE

Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele went toe-to-toe with his puppet alter-ego on Tuesday night’s “Daily Show.”

Host Jon Stewart had the two answer questions to determine which of the two was the real Michael Steele, with the human version defeating his plush doppelganger by correctly pronouncing the name of his RNC successor, Reince Priebus.

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Steele then went on to defend his record as party chairman. “We came in, we put our heads down and figured out a strategy that began with reigniting our base,” Steele said.

Stewart, in turn, made light of the fact that Steele was ousted from his chairmanship last month leaving the committee more than $20 million in debt. “You had a stimulus program through deficit spending that created a positive result, that ignited your base,” Stewart gibed.

CHARLOTTE OR BUST

In case you missed it, click here to read our report on the Democrats naming Charlotte as host city for their 2012 convention.

For more on the decision, check out the Charlotte Observer’s take, which includes this quote from Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine: “We wanted to show we were playing in a very aggressive way going to the South.”

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.