Health-care reform: After big GOP gains, will it be repealed?
Health-care reform is in the cross hairs of House Republicans, who are regaining control of the House. They vow to repeal or dismantle the legislation.
Even with a broad and historic majority, House Republicans have formidable roadblocks to delivering on a top campaign promise: to repeal or dismantle comprehensive health-care reform.Skip to next paragraph
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An outright repeal would have to get past a Democrat-controlled Senate and, more formidably, the Democratic president, who made health-care reform his No. 1 domestic priority earlier this year. Republicans don’t have the two-thirds majority required in both Houses to override a presidential veto.
Yet outright repeal is likely to be the first floor vote – after the vote for speaker – when the new Congress convenes in January.
No legislation more symbolizes what Republicans – and especially the conservative tea party movement – have dubbed the overreach of an out-of-touch majority. It’s a key vote for an insurgent freshman class eager to demonstrate that the 2010 election is producing change Washington.
“The health-care bill that was enacted by the current Congress will kill jobs in America, ruin the best health-care system in the world, and bankrupt our country,” said Rep. John Boehner (R) of Ohio, the presumptive House speaker, at a press briefing with GOP leaders Wednesday morning. “That means that we have to do everything we can to try to repeal this bill and replace it with common-sense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance.”
Mr. Boehner, says former GOP majority leader Dick Armey, “will find that the House will repeal it with no less than 20 Democratic votes.” He adds, “Don’t worry about what the Senate does.”
Mr. Armey advised and backed many tea party candidates.
For his part, President Obama is standing firm on the health-care law. “I’m sure this is an issue that will come up in discussions with Republican leadership, but I think we’d be misreading the election if we thought that the American people want to see us for the next two years relitigate arguments that we had over the last two years,” he said at a press briefing Wednesday afternoon.
“If Republicans have ideas for how to improve our health-care system ... I’m happy to consider some of those ideas,” he added.
Still, a strong move by Republicans on health care may be essential to sweeten what could be a bitter vote for the new GOP class: raising the national debt limit, now set at $14.9 trillion. Although conservatives campaigned aggressively against a soaring national debt, Mr. Armey predicts that tea party freshmen will back a new debt limit.
“It’s a legacy vote of the irresponsible spending that came before this time. Just in terms of avoiding breakdown, this vote has got to be made,” he adds.
House Democrats may opt to move this item in a lame-duck session, before the new lawmakers arrive.
In their “governing agenda,” House Republican leaders have already committed to repealing the “job killing” health-care law. “Because the new health care law kills jobs, raises taxes, and increases the cost of health care, we will immediately take action to repeal this law,” Republicans promised in their “Pledge to America,” which they released in September.
But they are also proposing that Congress enact elements left out of the Obama health-care law, such as medical liability reforms, the option of purchasing health-care insurance across state lines, and the expansion of health savings accounts.