GOP Reiterates Plans To Combat Provisions of Health Reform Law
On Sunday, top Republicans reiterated the GOP's plans to repeal or defund the federal health reform law in coming months, The Hill's "Blog Briefing Room" reports.
Congressional leaders and state officials outlined parts of the GOP's agenda during appearances on the Sunday news shows, days after Republicans regained a majority in the House in the midterm elections.
They noted that efforts to defund the law might prove to be more practical in lieu of a straightforward repeal because Democrats still retain a slim majority in the Senate and the GOP lacks a presidential veto-proof majority in both chambers (Bolton, "Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 11/7).
According to the New York Times, Republicans also expressed their intentions to use "the power of the purse" to block the law's implementation and force Democrats to defend the legislation at committee hearings and scheduled votes (Pear, New York Times, 11/6). The lawmakers said they also intend to keep their election campaign pledge to replace some of the reform law's costly provisions with reforms as part of broader efforts to rein in government spending (Weber, Washington Times, 11/7).
What the Republicans Said
In an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that health reform "was a huge, huge issue" in the midterm election, adding, "A vast majority of Americans feel very, very uncomfortable with this new bill. People who supported us, political independents, want it repealed and replaced with something else. I think we owe it to them to try" (Elliott, AP/Miami Herald, 11/7).
However, McConnell said repealing the law would be "difficult" with a Democratic president. He added, "But if we can put a full repeal on his desk and replace it with the kind of common-sense forms that we were advocating during the debate to reduce spending, we owe it to the American people to do that" ("Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 11/7).
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who is poised to assume the leadership role on the House Budget Committee, echoed McConnell's comments on "Fox News Sunday."
Ryan said, "You can't fully repeal and replace this law until you have a new president and a better Senate," adding, "And that's probably in 2013, but that's before the law fully kicks in, in 2014" (AP/Miami Herald, 11/7).
Â He said the GOP would seek other strategies that would "defund actual rollouts of this law," or encourage state Republican attorneys general to eliminate parts of the law in the courts ("Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 11/7).
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) -- the current House minority whip who is expected to run for House majority leader -- during a separate appearance on "Fox News Sunday" said, "If all of ObamaCare cannot be immediately repealed, then it is my intention to begin repealing it piece by piece, blocking funding for its implementation and blocking the issuance of the regulations necessary to implement it," adding, "In short, it is my intention to use every tool at our disposal to achieve full repeal of ObamaCare" (New York Times, 11/6).
On CNN's "State of the Union," outgoing Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who is widely believed to be weighing a White House candidacy in 2012, said he would run on a platform to repeal the health reform law if he decided to challenge President Obama ("Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 11/7).
Democrats Pledge To Defend Reform
According to the Times, Obama has often noted that they he will work to preserve the fundamental elements of the law.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs recently dismissed questions about whether Obama would veto legislation to defund the law, saying, "I don't think we'll get to that." White House officials also noted that Obama would adopt a new approach to emphasize the new consumer protections and controls that would take effect under the law.
In addition, other administration officials said they are planning Senate hearings with Democrats to allow consumers to talk about how they have already benefited from the law.
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), a strong White House ally on health reform, recently said that he would "fight any attempt to defund the law or repeal its consumer protections" (New York Times, 11/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.