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Undeterred, GOP Vows To Repeal Health Care Law


Just last week, Republican leaders were warning their rank and file not to gloat if the health care law were overturned. Well, after the decision came yesterday, GOP leaders regrouped and vowed to keep fighting. NPR's Andrea Seabrook reports.

ANDREA SEABROOK, BYLINE: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor stepped up to the microphone.

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: If for nothing else, today's health care decision underscores the importance of this election.

SEABROOK: Cantor and other Republican leaders gathered in the Capitol to respond to a barrage of questions from reporters. Why do they keep fighting a law that is now fully validated by the Supreme Court? Do they respect the court? What will they do now? The day seemed especially significant for freshman Tea Party Republicans, many of whom campaigned against the Affordable Care Act, like New York Republican Anne Marie Buerkle.

REPRESENTATIVE ANN MARIE BUERKLE: Today begins the fight. Today begins another debate. Today begins the true debate on how we are going to reform health care in the United States of America.

SEABROOK: North Carolina Republican Renee Ellmers is another freshman, and a nurse. She says she's been kept awake many nights by a terrible vision.

REPRESENTATIVE RENEE ELLMERS: Seeing myself holding the hand of a patient while the doctor comes into the room and says that their lifesaving treatment will be denied because the independent payment advisory board deems it unnecessary.

SEABROOK: For that and many reasons, Majority Leader Cantor said he is scheduling another vote on the House floor, a full repeal of the law, for the week after the July 4 holiday. And House Speaker John Boehner said the effect of the ruling is to strengthen the resolve of Republicans to get the health care law repealed.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: And we're going to work every single day been now and election day, and the American people then will get an opportunity to make their decision.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: The politics be damned. This is about what we came to do.

SEABROOK: The House Democrats' leader, Nancy Pelosi. She wore her lucky purple pumps yesterday, and she called to congratulate the widow of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, who was deeply involved in health care policy. Pelosi also took reporters' questions. What now? How will Democrats deal with the GOP attempt to repeal the law? What does this mean for the fall's election? Pelosi responded that viewing the decision through the prism of politics undermines the purpose of coming to Congress in the first place.

PELOSI: We are here to do a job for the American people. We are here to act upon our beliefs and a belief that we had, many of us shared, is that health care is a right, not a privilege, in our country.

SEABROOK: The law expands health care coverage to tens of millions of people who don't have it, and will make it illegal to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions, among other things. Despite this, Pelosi acknowledged that the law is not terribly popular with the public.

PELOSI: But now that we have a decision, and they're talking about overturning it, we can say with clarity this is what the bill does, this is what they want to take away from you, this is how they want to increase your cost, and let the public decide.

SEABROOK: So lawmakers may say politics be damned, but once again, in both parties, all eyes are on the fall's election. Andrea Seabrook, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Andrea Seabrook covers Capitol Hill as NPR's Congressional Correspondent.