After weeks of bruising political losses and tanking polling numbers, Republicans are ready to gain some ground back with an “I told you so” moment.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will appear before a House panel “as early as next week” and will address issues with the health care website, department officials are confirming. And after months of saying the health care law was a failure, this might be the time to drive that point home.
In what appeared to be a top-down coordinated effort, House Republicans spent much of Monday pressuring Sebelius to testify before Congress. It started with tweets from Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor in rare, direct messages to Sebelius.
President Obama should immediately instruct @Sebelius to testify in Congress this week on the status of the health care exchanges.— Eric Cantor (@GOPLeader) October 21, 2013
Much of the Republican caucus followed suit and remains on message, mocking the secretary in tweets throughout much of the day.
Republicans had scheduled a House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing for this Thursday, but Sebelius is scheduled to be out of town and can’t make it.
Her appearance and what is likely to be an intense congressional hearing comes days after the government shutdown spectacle that gave the Republican Party some of its lowest numbers in recent years.
White House press secretary Jay Carney punted on questions of whether Sebelius would testify before Congress this week, referring reporters to the Health and Human Services Department for those questions.
“I would say that the department has consistently engaged with and worked with Congress and I am sure that the department will continue to do that,” Carney said when pressed.
The website for the Affordable Care Act has been plagued with glitches and malfunctions since its rollout several weeks ago. Republicans were quick to jump on these issues, tying them to what they say are broader issues with the health care law.
However, much of this news was shadowed by the government shutdown and impending default on America’s loans.
But with that resolved, Republicans have turned their attention back toward the law, and it looks like the American people are listening. According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday, 56 percent of Americans tie the glitches to the website to broader implementation problems with the health care law.
Speaking to a group of supporters at the White House on Monday, President Obama said that although he was frustrated with these problems, he still defended the law. He also criticized Republicans for saying that these issues prove that the law is a failure.
“I just want to remind everybody, we did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a website,” Obama said.
Still, Republicans are looking for a fight to recapture some ground lost with the American public. This might be their way back.