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Obama foes in Senate press health law repeal

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President Barack Obama’s Republican foes in the US Senate introduced legislation Wednesday to repeal his landmark health care law, amid vows by the chamber’s Democratic majority to defeat the effort.

Led by Senator Jim DeMint, a patron of sorts to archconservative “Tea Party” activists in the US Congress, 34 Republicans backed the legislation in keeping with a campaign vow to dismantle the overhaul Obama signed last year.

“Republicans are standing with the American people who are demanding we repeal this government takeover of health care,” said DeMint who called repeal “vital to the future of our nation and the health of our people.”

Opinion polls have found the US public deeply divided over the health law, but only roughly one in five in favor of outright repeal, while others say the overhaul needs to be stronger and some want only some parts rolled back.

“Republicans are wasting time fighting old battles when we should be focused on creating jobs,” said a spokesman for Senate Democrats, Brian Fallon, who accused Republicans of being “hell-bent on political stunts.”

The Senate measure was identical to legislation the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives approved one week ago.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he will not bring the repeal up for a vote in the chamber, though Democrats acknowledge that parliamentary rules make it hard if not impossible to block one outright.

But Republicans were not expected to rally enough Democrats to approve the measure, which would not survive Obama’s veto even if it cleared the Congress.

Republicans planned to craft their own alternative to the legislation over the coming months, taking care to safeguard some of the most popular provisions.

Obama said in his “State of the Union” speech to the nation late Tuesday that he was “eager” to work with Republicans to make small improvements in the law but was “not willing” to reconsider a complete repeal.

“Instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let’s fix what needs fixing and let’s move forward,” he said.

Washington, Jan 26, 2011 (AFP)