Wasting no time in trying to use their new leverage to roll back the achievements of the Obama administration, House Republicans plan a floor vote to repeal the president's health care law next Wednesday, January 12, opening up what is expected to be a new era of contentious relations between the White House and the enlarged and emboldened congressional GOP.
The proposed bill would repeal the health care law and the health-related sections of the reconciliation measure used to pass the final version of the law.
In an effort to fulfill promises to replace the health care law, Republicans will also consider a measure that would require House committees with health jurisdiction to report new health overhaul legislation, but does not give a deadline within which committees must report that language.
The resolution requires the health care committees to pass bills that achieve a standard wish-list of Republican health care goals, including medical liability reform and expanded state control over Medicaid programs. The resolution also says committee bills must foster job creation, while also lowering health care premiums through increased competition and choice and providing individuals with pre-existing conditions access to coverage.
The repeal effort comes despite urging by Senate Democrats today in a letter to incoming House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to reconsider the idea, and a warning that the Senate would block any such effort to repeal Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment to date.
"Obamacare is a job killer for businesses small and large, and the top priority for House Republicans is going to be to cut spending and grow the economy and jobs," said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.
"Further, ObamaCare failed to lower costs as the president promised that it would and does not allow people to keep the care they currently have if they like it. That is why the House will repeal it next week," said Dayspring.
Posting the bill tonight provides House Republicans with the time frame they need to comply with their own new transparency rules changes, which will come up for a vote on Wednesday when the new Congress convenes.
That schedule allows the House Rules Committee to meet Thursday and bring to the House floor by Friday the rule setting the parameters of next week’s floor debate and action on the repeal vote.
Asked if Democrats would be able to offer amendments, Dayspring responded that it was a straightforward bill to repeal ObamaCare, and that there will be “multiple hours of debate.” He added that Democrats will have the option to offer some procedural motions but that "there’s nothing to amend in legislation that is a page long."
The details of the Republican plans for the vote came just hours after the release of a letter to Boehner today from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other top Senate Democrats.
"We urge you to consider the unintended consequences that the law’s repeal would have on a number of popular consumer protections that help middle-class Americans," states the letter. One example cited was the fix to Medicare’s so-called “donut hole,” a measure that took effect Saturday that is set to save 3.4 million seniors thousands of dollars on prescription drug costs each year.
"If House Republicans move forward with a repeal of the health care law that threatens consumer benefits like the 'donut hole' fix, we will block it in the Senate," states the letter.