In the House of Representatives, it seems Republican leadership is hoping to run out the clock.
With just 15 days left to legislate before the August recess, House leadership isn't scurrying to pass job creation legislation or curb the looming "fiscal cliff," Instead, lawmakers are devoting their time to largely symbolic votes like repealing the Affordable Care Act, the 31st time such a vote has taken place.
"There are demonstration projections and there are also demonstration votes," says Larry Sabato, Director for the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "It is to let your party base know you are with them and to force your opponents to vote the other way."
While the "Repeal Obamacare Act" is expected to pass in the House with a sweeping majority, Senate leadership is unlikely to ever bring it to the floor, nor would it ever pass under the Democratic majority.
But that hasn't kept the House from spending the first half of this week on the measure. The House Rules Committee met to formulate the healthcare repeal language Monday and the debate on the "Repeal of Obamacare Act" began early Tuesday morning, with a vote expected Wednesday. And in case that isn't enough time, the effects of Obamacare on doctors and patients was also debated for several hours Tuesday in two separate committees. [Check out political cartoons about President Obama.]
But while the actions of House Republicans make it look as though they are serious about repealing healthcare, even they know their actions are futile.
Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price said Tuesday during a breakfast hosted by two leading GOP Super PACs that Republicans aren't expecting the 31st time to be charm.
"We believe in an open, deliberative, rational, bipartisan process, and that's the process that we will go through when we are given the privilege of leading in this town," Price said. "We continue to be the minority party and consequently we've got to wait until we're the majority party to get this done."
Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso agrees there is no chance the House could repeal healthcare until after the election, assuming Republicans gain control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. [See a collection of political cartoons on healthcare.]
"You can imagine Harry Reid will try to block any of those type of votes," Barrasso said. "The president would obviously veto it. To be able to really repeal this legislation, we need a new president and a new majority in the Senate, just to 51, to use the budget reconciliation process and keep the House."
Healthcare isn't the only topic the House is taking up this week.
House committees are spending time on how to help Immigration and Customs Enforcement better curb illegal immigration and examining the impact of the Dodd-Frank bill, which Republicans have often called a "job killer."
The House Judiciary Committee will also mark up "the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" Tuesday, legislation that would prohibit abortions at 20 weeks gestation or later in Washington, D.C.
"An entire year has been wasted on things like this," a Senior Democratic leadership aide said. "We've focused on partisan politics as opposed to the nation's business."
House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson says many House Republicans have decided it is more important to see Obama fail than see America succeed.
"They are caught in this perpetual Groundhog Day," Larson said. "It is the lack of no jobs agenda while 14 million Americans are out of work."
Democrats have worked to frame Republicans as run amok obstructionists who have used their majority in the House to promote conservative principals over compromise.
During a Monday speech to discuss new manufacturing jobs legislation at the Center for American Progress, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer told the audience that Republicans had broken their promise to the American people that they were going to bring "substantive" legislation to the floor.
"Mr. Cantor said some weeks ago he didn't think much was going to be done between now and the election," Hoyer said. "I think that is unfortunate. America's challenged, people are out of jobs, people are anxious."
"I tell people there was a hostile takeover of the corporation of which I'm a member. I'm now a minority stock holder," Hoyer said with a smirk.
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