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United, Senate Dems defeat health care repeal measure

Senate Democrats remained united on Wednesday in killing a Republican effort to repeal the health care bill signed into law last March.  

As expected, no Democrats voted against a procedural motion that effectively defeated a GOP amendment -- sponsored by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and tacked on to an unrelated aviation bill -- to repeal the health legislation.  

All Republicans voted together in favor of the McConnell-sponsored amendment. The vote was 47-51.

The House passed the repeal measure last month.

But the defeat of the equivalent legislation in the Senate means that the ultimate fate of the health care bill will likely not be settled until the Supreme Court hears an expected constitutional challenge to the law -- particularly its mandate that most Americans buy insurance.

The high court would likely hear the case in its next term, which begins in October of 2011, although some would like to see the matter addressed sooner. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., urged the court today to expedite the ruling.

"The vote to repeal health care is largely symbolic, because the Supreme Court is going to have to be the one to decide this matter,” Nelson said in a statement. “We ought to do the right thing and ask the High Court to rule quickly so we don’t keep arguing over this for the next several years.”

NBC's Ken Strickland contributed.