The party lines were clearly drawn Wednesday evening as Democrats remained united in opposition to Republicans' efforts to repeal last year's controversial health care overhaul law.
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's procedural maneuver succeeded in forcing a vote on the issue, however, a potential victory for the GOP as support for a repeal continues to climb.
Likewise, all Republicans voted together in favor of the McConnell-sponsored amendment, bringing the final vote to 47-51. The House passed the repeal measure in January.
Efforts to repeal the measure -- namely the requirement for every American to purchase health care insurance -- now rest in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court which is expected to hear arguments from an alliance of 26 states challenging the law's constitutional basis. The high court may hear the case during its next term, which begins in October, although a number of members of Congress have urged the court to expedite the ruling.
The Senate did succeed, however, in agreeing on the repeal of one of the bill's unpopular IRS reporting provisions. In a vote of 81-17, the Senate struck down the 1099 reporting requirement which would require businesses to report annual purchases of goods or services valued at more than $600 to each vendor.
The 1099 provision repeal must still be approved by the House of Representatives, but the GOP majority has signaled its support for a quick vote.
Once passed, President Obama is expected to sign off on the repealed provision. Until now, Democrats and Republicans have been unable to agree on how best to offset the $19 billion in lost revenue. The Senate-approved measure seeks to offset the cost by granting the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) authority to identify unobligated funds with a specified exemption of funds from the Social Security Administration.
Seventeen Democrats voted against the measure, many hesitant to give OMB the power to cut federal funds.
“What is convenient is not always right,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who voted against the 1099 repeal. “The Constitution places in our hands, and ours alone, the authority to appropriate funds. We cannot statutorily pass that buck and we should not.” Levin instead proposed an alternative 1099 measure that would have used taxes collected from the oil and gas industry to fund the repeal.