The House voted on repealing the health care overhaul tonight, and, with Republicans in the majority, there was little chance for Democrats to stop them. Repeal passed.
But, as has always been the case, Republicans even now stand little chance of actually repealing the 1,016-page law signed by President Obama in March.
In order for the health care law to be repealed, Obama would have to sign the Republicans' repeal legislation, a two-paragraph bill that strikes down the new law. There is no indication that Obama would sign it.
It's also unlikely that the Senate will ever vote on repeal. Democrats control the Senate and, along with it, which bills see the light of day. A Democratic Senate leadership aide confirmed today that there is zero chance Democratic leaders will call this bill up for a vote, ever.
So, legislatively, repeal will hit a dead end if it clears the House.
Politically, on the other hand...expect House Republicans to celebrate making good on a campaign promise to do all they could to repeal the bill. On Wednesday, the GOP's House campaign arm had already blasted an e-mail out to supporters saying "We Kept Our Promise" and raising money off tonight's vote. The liberal Public Campaign Action Fund, meanwhile, will release a TV ad attacking Republicans soon after the vote.
Health care can resurface as a campaign issue, both because 1) it's Obama's signature policy initiative, and he will have to defend it in the 2012 White House race, and 2) because if Republicans take the Senate and White House in 2012, it's possible they will repeal health care--that this bill will pass in the next Congress, and that a Republican president will sign it.
So, after tonight's vote, repeal will hit the back-burner in Congress, transferring all of its weight onto the platform of campaign politics.