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They're not just 'getting it out of the way'

Don't just roll your eyes -- the latest Republican vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act matters.
File Photo: Flanked by conservative lawmakers, Ken Hoagland, chairman of the Repeal It campaign, center, criticizes President Obama's national heath care plan, often called \"Obamacare,\" Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011, during a news conference on...
File Photo: Flanked by conservative lawmakers, Ken Hoagland, chairman of the Repeal It campaign, center, criticizes President Obama's national heath...
Everyone has hobbies. For some, voting dozens of times to take away families' access to health care benefits seems like less of a legislative priority, and more of a leisurely diversion -- a pastime of sorts intended to help Republicans relax, pass the time, and feel better about themselves.

As the Republicans hold their 56th vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, the White House will play host to 10 people who it says demonstrate the health law's impact on ordinary Americans. "The individuals meeting with the president today highlight how important it is to spread the word and ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to sign up for the health care they need," a White House official said. The event comes on the same day that House Republicans will vote to repeal President Barack Obama's signature health care law for the 56th time.

For the record, I've seen competing counts -- the Wall Street Journal puts the tally at 56, but some put the number a little higher -- but the specific figure is less important than the fact that GOP lawmakers have cast the same pointless and dangerous vote over and over again.
According to one Republican aide on Capitol Hill, the GOP majority knows the bill isn't going anywhere, but Republicans are treating it like a routine chore. "We're just getting it out of the way," the staffer said.
It's quite a congressional majority, isn't it? Nearly a month into the new Congress, Republicans have prioritized an oil-pipeline bill they know can't pass, an immigration package they know can't pass, changes to Wall Street safeguards they know can't pass, anti-abortion legislation they know can't pass, and anti-healthcare measures they know can't pass.
Every pundit who said the GOP was ready to prove it can be a governing party: go sit in the corner for a while.
Congressional ineptitude notwithstanding, it's probably a mistake to just roll one's eyes at the latest House stunt. As Greg Sargent noted this morning, there's a context to this that adds weight to today's theatrics.

[T]oday's action amounts to more than just a symbolic gesture or checking a box. Today's repeal vote comes in the context of a broad debate over the King v. Burwell challenge, which, if upheld by the Supreme Court, could yank subsidies and health coverage from millions and unleash untold disruptions in insurance markets across the country. The repeal vote is a reminder that the only consensus GOP position on health reform is to blow up Obamacare and replace it with nothing. That could have important implications for King v. Burwell. [...] Meanwhile, as Brian Beutler reports, a new brief filed by public health scholars predicts thousands of deaths could result from a decision gutting subsidies for millions.

In related news from the past couple of days, there's fresh evidence that House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was convinced all Americans would be eligible for subsidies, whether their state had an exchange marketplace or not, which further helps reinforce the inanity of the King v. Burwell case.
And making matters just a little more one-sided, even the Heritage Foundation told state officials in 2011 that consumers would be eligible for subsidies through the ACA, regardless of whether they relied on or a state exchange to enroll.
In other words, literally every shred of evidence points to the entire King v. Burwell case being a transparent sham, and with each passing day, that reality appears more painfully obvious.
Something to keep in mind as today's legislative nonsense wastes time on Capitol Hill.