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CBS’s Pelley Upset House’s ObamaCare Repeal Votes Have ‘Cost Taxpayers’ $50 Million

Showing a renewed concern for the interests of taxpayers, CBS put “Cost to Taxpayers” on screen Wednesday night as CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley worried not about the cost of ObamaCare, but “how much it cost taxpayers for the House to repeal the law again and again?” Pelley relayed how “the Congressional Research Service tells us that the House of Representatives costs us $24 million a week. So with two weeks spent repealing the law, that comes to a little under $50 million.”

What a meaningless point. As if that $50 million wouldn’t have been spent in any event since the cost of operating the House would not have disappeared from federal outlays if the body dealt with other issues.

The Republican-controlled House voted 244-185 to repeal ObamaCare, leading Pelley to frame a story: “With so much urgent business before the House, why spend so much time voting to repeal the law over and over again?”

Reporter Nancy Cordes soon complained: “It is the 33rd vote to repeal all or part of the President’s health care law, a Republican effort that, according to a CBS News tally, has taken up at least 80 hours on the House floor. That’s two full work weeks since early 2011.”

She demanded of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: “You’ve held something like 33 votes already about repealing the President’s health care law. Haven’t you made your point already? Why keep holding these votes, keep conducting these debates?”

Following her piece, Pelley ruminated:

We wondered how much it cost taxpayers for the House to repeal the law again and again? You can’t be exact about these things, but the Congressional Research Service tells us that the House of Representatives costs us $24 million a week. So with two weeks spent repealing the law, that comes to a little under $50 million.

Pelley assumed the anchor seat after ObamaCare passed, but the House of Representatives spent a lot more than two weeks debating it in 2009 and 2010 and I don’t recall CBS fretting then over the cost of the time spent on it.

From Monday night: “Bizarrely, CBS’s O’Donnell Cites ‘Cost to Taxpayers’ of Maintaining Current Income Tax Rates

From the Wednesday, July 11 CBS Evening News, closed-captioning corrected against the video by the MRC’s Brad Wilmouth:

SCOTT PELLEY: Today the House of Representatives voted to repeal President Obama’s health care law. It is the 33rd time that House Republicans have done that, even though they know the repeal won’t go anywhere. It won’t be considered by the Senate -- which is controlled by the Democrats -- and, of course, the President would veto it. With so much urgent business before the House, why spend so much time voting to repeal the law over and over again? We asked Nancy Cordes to look into it.

NANCY CORDES: House Republicans have now held so many repeal votes lawmakers are losing track.

REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D-NY): This is the 31st repeal vote.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): Today’s 32nd repeal vote of health care.

CORDES: In fact, it is the 33rd vote to repeal all or part of the President’s health care law, a Republican effort that, according to a CBS News tally, has taken up at least 80 hours on the House floor. That’s two full work weeks since early 2011. Texas Republican Lamar Smith:

REP. LAMAR SMITH (R-TX): ObamaCare is a massive tax hike on the middle class.

CORDES: But today’s measure will suffer the same fate as the other full repeal efforts which sailed through the Republican-controlled House but died, predictably, in the Democratically-controlled Senate. Michigan Democrat John Dingell:

REP. JOHN DINGELL (D-MI): I say shame. You’re wasting the time of the American people. You're wasting the time of the Congress.

CORDES: And time is precious on Capitol Hill where House leaders have scheduled only 42 more working days between now and the end of the year when critical deadlines loom. The Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire then for everyone, and steep across-the-board spending cuts will kick in. There’s been little attempt to seek common ground on those issues or on funding the government which must be done by October or on tackling the nation’s 8.2 percent unemployment rate. Republican Leader Eric Cantor spearheaded today’s repeal effort.

CORDES TO CANTOR: You’ve held something like 33 votes already about repealing the President’s health care law. Haven’t you made your point already? Why keep holding these votes, keep conducting these debates?

ERIC CANTOR, HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: We want to try and get it right. Again, the American people have rejected ObamaCare. You know, they don’t want Washington telling them what kind of health care they should have.

CORDES: But are you proposing something else?

CANTOR: In fact, absolutely. All along the process during which ObamaCare was being discussed here on Capitol Hill we posited an alternative.

CORDES: Republicans did release a short outline of their health care priorities back in 2009 but have crafted no formal replacement for the President’s health care law and have no immediate plans to do so. Scott, one of the main goals for Republicans of holding these votes over and over again is really to tie vulnerable Democrats to an unpopular law in an election year.

PELLEY: Nancy, thank you. We wondered how much it cost taxpayers for the House to repeal the law again and again. You can’t be exact about these things, but the Congressional Research Service tells us that the House of Representatives costs us $24 million a week. So with two weeks spent repealing the law, that comes to a little under $50 million.

-- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brent Baker on Twitter.