Senate to vote today on repeal of health care law

WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote today on legislation to repeal President Obama's health care overhaul, after Democrats and Republicans agreed on a deal to schedule the largely symbolic roll call.

The repeal, which GOP lawmakers are trying to attach to an aviation bill, is expected to fall short of the necessary 60-vote supermajority. Democrats hold a 53-47 edge in the Senate, including independents who caucus with them.

But the repeal vote will give Republicans the recorded tally they have been seeking since the GOP-controlled House approved a repeal resolution two weeks ago.

And it will put more pressure on centrist Democrats facing re-election in 2012, some of whom are expected to back the repeal. Democratic leaders worked Tuesday to hold enough Democratic votes to stop Republicans from getting a symbolic 51-vote majority for the repeal amendment.

As the Senate GOP campaign committee sent an online alert to pressure several centrist Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appeared to challenge them directly on the Senate floor.

"It's an opportunity to re-evaluate your vote, to listen to your constituents who are desperately trying to get your attention," he told his colleagues. "You can say, 'Perhaps this was a mistake.' "

Democrats in reply chided Republicans for seeking to score political points rather than trying to improve the existing law.

The congressional maneuvering came as Republican state officials and the Obama administration worked to make sense of a confusing ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger E. Vinson in the lawsuit by 26 states challenging the law.

Vinson, who concluded Monday that the individual insurance mandate in the law is unconstitutional, did not suspend the law but said the government should abide by his decision to effectively invalidate it.