The House will hold a symbolic vote to repeal the law on July 11, but the real long-term strategy for rolling back the law is already under way. Republicans are stoking voter anger over the law until Election Day, which they hope will produce a Mitt Romney presidency and an all-Republican Congress. And it ends by employing budget rules that would allow a fast-track repeal with a 51-vote majority in the Senate, circumventing a Democratic minority and potential filibuster.
So it’s not surprising that the word “reconciliation” was on the tip of virtually every Republican tongue Thursday, just hours after the landmark Supreme Court ruling upholding most of the health care law.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Republican Conference, said budget reconciliation could be a “vehicle” for repeal, promising Republicans would make “every attempt” under a GOP Senate majority and Republican White House to do just that.
“I’ve already heard discussions that it can be done through 51 votes in the Senate, which is an easier threshold,” said Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a member of House GOP leadership and a key Romney adviser.
“With a 50-vote majority in the Senate, Republicans could do the same thing Democrats did with 50 votes on Obamacare — and that is to use the reconciliation process — to reverse the more onerous provisions of Obamacare and replace them with what Republicans have been talking about,” Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said.
Of course, a lot has to go right for Republicans between now and then.
Obama would have to lose the White House, Republicans would have to pick up three Senate seats — and hold the House — and the GOP would have to show 100 percent unity if it was serious about repealing a law that has been found constitutional by the Supreme Court.
On top of that, some budget experts believe not every part of the health care law could be repealed using the simple-majority rules of reconciliation — only the parts that have a direct budget impact. Still, major portions, including the individual mandate, could be targeted by reconciliation.