Commentary: Symbolic health care repeal vote doesn't move nation forward

The Fresno BeeJanuary 24, 2011 

We understand the need for House Republicans to pass the symbolic measure to repeal President Obama's health-care reform law. But now that they've gotten that off their chests, can Congress now move on to actually doing the nation's business?

The symbolic vote was much like the procedural and political nonsense that Republicans complained so often about during the last session headed by Rep. Nancy Pelosi when she was speaker. We urge the entire Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- to rise above the petty political games of the past, and do the work they were elected to perform.

On Tuesday, the president will deliver his State of the Union address, laying out his agenda for the nation. The Republicans will counter with their programs. The divisions in philosophy will undoubtedly be stark. Let's debate these fundamental differences in a civil manner.

We like the idea that many Democratic and Republican lawmakers say they'll sit with a friend from the opposing party at the State of the Union speech, instead of sitting in a partisan group in the House chamber. That could lead to them working together on legislation.

Republicans made big gains in the midterm elections, and the partisanship has intensified in Congress. The tone of Obama's speech and the response by Republicans will give us an idea whether the next two years will continue the partisanship or lead to a genuine effort to solve the nation's problems.

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