A vote to repeal Obamacare will be high on the agenda of the House of Representatives when the new Congress convenes in January, and the bill is very likely to pass the House with support from both Republicans and conservative – or at least frightened – Democrats.
But the repeal bill likely will stall in the Democrat-controlled Senate and certainly would hit a brick wall with President Obama’s inevitable veto.
So what next?
The battle against Obamacare will take place on four fronts over the next two years: legislative, political, legal and regulatory. Here is an overview of routes members can be expected to pursue.
Legislative actions will begin with the full repeal vote and continue with targeted votes to defund, delay, dismantle and do direct oversight and investigation, especially into the avalanche of regulations being issued every day.
There will be ample use of hearings, floor votes and numerous legislative offerings in the next two years to help in this educational effort. But members know they can’t stop there: Georgia’s Rep. Tom Price, newly elected chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, also plans to couple repeal efforts with a positive, step-by-step agenda for reform.
The political front will involve continuing educational efforts by outside groups and political candidates to help the American people understand more about the details of the health care overhaul law and its damaging impact on the health sector and the economy, especially job creation and health costs.
Obamacare inevitably will be a major topic in the 2012 presidential campaign, especially if former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney decides to run and tries to defend his role in passage of Romneycare.
Legal challenges likely will grow. Newly elected governors and attorneys general are being encouraged to join the Florida suit to expand the number of states challenging the health overhaul law as unconstitutional. As many as seven or eight more states could join the 20 on the suit.
Some attorneys general are expected to ask the U.S. Supreme Court for an expedited review because so many demands are placed on the states by the federal law, and they need to know as soon as possible whether they must comply. Expect many other lawsuits to be brought against specific provisions of the law as well.
One sure target: regulatory roadblocks built into the law. While the wheels of the bureaucracy are rapidly churning out regulations to implement the health law, legislators have a responsibility to protect the American people, including taxpayers, to make sure that these regulations and the implementation processes are doing no harm.
Expect Congress to take a number of actions by conducting careful review of the avalanche of regulations being issued, demanding information from key government officials about their implementation strategies, and reviewing spending by federal officials in implementing the law.
More than 60 new Republicans elected to the House on Nov. 2 are determined to repeal Obamacare and will be looking for every opportunity to show progress toward that goal before they face voters again in two years.
And the 29 Republican governors, many of whom were elected in staunch opposition to the federal health overhaul law, will be doing everything they can to protect their residents from its collectivist tentacles. House and Senate leaders already have said they plan to work closely with governors and state legislators to give them more flexibility and escape routes.
Obamacare seems to have become a modern-day hydra – the mythological creature that grew new heads every time one was cut off. But the opposition efforts can play the same game. The battles have only begun.
Published in The Washington Times, December 17, 2010.