WASHINGTON — There was no mistaking the significance many first-term Republican lawmakers attached to a day they had long waited for, finally getting a chance to speak and then vote, 245-189, on the House floor against a health care overhaul they had campaigned for months to repeal.
Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, said the law imposes a crushing tax burden on businesses and predicted "1.6 million jobs will be lost by 2014 due to this mandate" to require many businesses to provide coverage for employees. Southerland won his North Florida seat by turning out Democratic incumbent Allen Boyd.
Three Democrats — David Boren of Oklahoma, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Mike Ross of Arkansas — joined all 242 Republicans in support of the resolution, named the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.
The remaining 189 Democrats voted against repeal. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, hospitalized in Arizona, did not vote.
Republicans variously described the law as "socialistic," "a monstrosity" and a "dark chapter" in U.S. history. At the same time, they said they wanted to join with Democrats to find other approaches.
"I'm committed to working on reforms that we both agree on in a bipartisan manner," said Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio.
Some Republicans said they support certain goals of the law. Among them is a provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents' insurance policies until they turn 26, and another that has created temporary subsidies for special insurance for people with ailments that have led insurance companies to deny them coverage.
But Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, made clear that the GOP still favors ideas that many Democrats oppose. They include placing limits on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits and tax credits to help pay for insurance.
In the Senate, Democrats retain a 53-47 edge, counting two independents who caucus with them, and Democratic leaders firmly oppose repeal. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, D-Nev., has said he will not allow a similar vote.
"The Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn't want to vote on this bill. But I assure you, we will," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.
GOP leaders intend to draft bills to change the structure that Democrats put in place. In the coming months, GOP officials said, committees will propose the elimination of a requirement for individuals to purchase coverage, for example, and recommend curbs on medical malpractice lawsuits.
Information from AP, Washington Post and McClatchy-Tribune was used in this report.