House Republicans are having their 37th vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act today. As Speaker John Boehner explained the reason for the vote is purely political. While during the previous Congress voted repeatedly on repealing Obamacare there are many newly elected Democratic and Republican members of Congress who are not officially on record.
While many have attacked this vote as a wasteful sideshow since there is no way this repeal bill will be enacted, I believe it is an acceptable use of time.
While taking more than thirty votes on on the same issue during a single Congress was needlessly wasteful, this is actually different. Taking just a single vote this Congress to put new members on the record technically provides voters with a useful piece of information.
Ideally, politics should be about parties with different policies that the electorate chooses between. Parties should run on well-defined platforms and work to enact these platforms if they win the election. Democracy works bests when voters know what policies the parties do and do not support.
At its core the Republicans want the voters to know where every member of Congress stands on one of the most significant laws in decades. Congress spending a few hours to create a clear policy contrast on one of the most important issue of the day might not be the most productive use of time, but it does serve a real function.
Photo by Gage Skidmore released under Creative Commons License