As House debates repeal, Obama defends health care law

President Barack Obama speaks at the Kirkwood Community College Recreation Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Tuesday, July 10, 2012. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

President Barack Obama speaks at the Kirkwood Community College Recreation Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Tuesday, July 10, 2012.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

(CBS News) As members of the House of Representatives debate a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Obama on Tuesday defended the law, telling voters at a campaign speech that health care reform was "the right thing to do."

Mr. Obama, speaking to an animated crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, assured voters that the controversial law, which the Supreme Court recently voted to uphold, is "here to stay" despite continued Republican efforts to get rid of it.

"I will work with anybody to improve the health care law where we can, but this law is here to stay," Mr. Obama told the crowd, to applause. "And it will help the vast majority of Americans feel greater security. If you've got health insurance, it's going to be more secure because insurance companies can't jerk you around because of fine print. If you don't have health insurance, we'll help you get it."

Even as the president touted the health care law to voters in Iowa, however, the House of Representatives was in the midst of a heated debate over its merits.

A post-Supreme Court guide to the health care law

House members voted 240-182 in favor of a rule setting up five hours of debate on a GOP-sponsored bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which will be up for a vote this week. Four Democrats -- Reps. Dan Boren, of Okla.; Mike Ross, of Ark.; and Larry Kissell and Mike McIntyre, both of N.C. -- voted for the rule, and are expected to vote in favor of the repeal as well.

Republicans argue that in light of the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the law, a congressional bill to repeal the law is more necessary than ever.

"Obamacare is now the official law of the land," said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, referencing the decision. "However, there is something this body can do to reverse the course and to prevent the job-destroying aspects of this bill from taking effect: a complete repeal of the bill."

White House press secretary Jay Carney scolds GOP repeal efforts in the video to the left.

Democrats, meanwhile, argue that holding another vote to repeal the bill - this will be the 33rd vote to either repeal, defund, or dismantle the law since it was passed - is a waste of time and resources, particularly as the bill is unlikely to pass in the Senate.

"Never in the history of this Congress... has anybody voted this many times on a single issue," said Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., in remarks on the House floor. "And why? Because we don't have anything else to do."

Introducing the repeal bill was just one component of a multifaceted GOP campaign against the health care law Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, Republicans held a series of congressional panels, news conferences, and interviews aimed at discrediting the law's benefits, as well as touting both Republican policies and candidates.

"It's very important for us to get health care for the American people the way they want it and to get it right," said Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., in an interview on CBS News. "I think many of us were disappointed by the Supreme Court decision and most Americans have rejected Obamacare."

Watch Cantor's remarks in the video to the left.

"We don't want Washington telling folks what kind of health care they should have," he added. "We know the president is not going to sign a repeal bill as long as he's sitting in the White House it's another one of those things that makes this election the most impactful in our lifetime."

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