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Cantor to Senate: 'Let's see the votes' on health care repeal

AP

House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) (center)

From NBC’s Luke Russert and Carrie Dann
House Republicans’ effort to push a wholesale repeal of President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform legislation appears destined to hit a legislative brick wall immediately after its passage in the lower chamber this afternoon.

But new Majority Leader Eric Cantor is still challenging Democrats in the Senate to bring the measure up for consideration, daring Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid: “Let's see the votes!"

"I think the American people deserve to see a vote in the Senate, and the Senate ought not be a place where legislation goes into a dead end,” Cantor told reporters Wednesday.

Reid has stated that he will not bring the House-passed repeal measure to the Senate floor. It would be all but assured to fail in the upper chamber, where Democrats still hold a narrow advantage, and it would face the president’s veto pen even if Senate Republicans mustered the votes to roll back Obama’s chief legislative accomplishment.

Cantor hinted Wednesday that Reid’s refusal to acknowledge the House’s symbolic repeal effort may stem from skittishness about the bill on the part of some moderate Democrats who are up for re-election.

“I think you saw this election, the vote on Obamacare was very central to the outcome,” he said, alluding to “snide remarks” made by some on the other side of the Capitol about how the bill was passed.

Democrat Jim Webb of Virginia said at a local forum last month that the Obama administration “did a really terrible job handling health care reform.” (A spokesperson later highlighted his criticism of Republicans’ management of the issue as well.) And new Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., favors repeal of some parts of the bill and has said that Democrats “overreached” in approving the final version of the legislation.

Both lawmakers are up for re-election in 2012.