On a virtual party line vote Friday morning, the House approved H.R. 3762, the “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act” by a vote of 240-189. Seven Republicans opposed the measure, while a single Democrat voted in favor. The measure is the first opportunity Republicans have had to use the reconciliation process, where only 51 votes are needed to pass the Senate to eliminate portions of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
In his opening statement at the beginning of debate on the bill, Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price of Georgia described what the bill will do:
The Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act repeals the individual and employer mandates, the onerous “Cadillac Tax” and medical device tax, an Obamacare slush fund, as well as undue demands on employers and employees. Additionally, it prohibits for one year taxpayer dollars from being used to pay abortion providers that are prohibited under the legislation while dedicating additional resources for community health centers across the country for women’s health care.
Taken together, the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation estimate this legislation will lower deficits by $130 billion over the 10-year budget window. Roughly $51 billion of those savings would come from the positive macroeconomic effects of what we are proposing. CBO and JCT estimate that the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act would lead to an increase in the labor supply, in economic growth, in capital investment and total compensation. It would also eliminate work disincentives while decreasing federal borrowing.
7th District Congressman Rob Woodall, who also sits on the Budget Committee, said:
Since its hurried, one-sided beginning, Obamacare has forced the harsh realities of fewer choices, lower quality and higher health care costs on countless families across the country. Today’s vote addresses America’s spending problem while also closing shop on the most damaging and intrusive aspects of the President’s health care law. While there is much more to do, I’m proud of the steps the House took today, and with only 51 votes needed in the Senate to overcome filibuster, am confident we can move this important legislation to the President’s desk. It is my hope that America speaks with a loud voice urging the Senate to do just that.
America may try to speak with a loud voice, but there appears to be some that aren’t listening. Eliminating the president’s health care law has been a top priority of Republicans, and especially those in the Tea Party. Two years ago, the government was shut down, largely because of the efforts of Senator Ted Cruz. But, if you think the Senator from Texas and presidential candidate would be leading the charge on the reconciliation bill, you would be wrong.
Senator Cruz, along with fellow Senators Mike Lee and Marco Rubio say they will vote no on the measure once it reaches the Senate because it doesn’t go far enough. Maybe that’s because the Heritage Foundation and its PAC Heritage Action plan to score the vote on the bill. And Heritage Action believes that only full repeal is acceptable.
Why is it so important that this be full repeal?
The Obamacare repeal movement has been successful in the last 5 years in keeping full repeal intact. It has recognized that it will be much easier to repeal Obamacare as a whole if all of the mandates and entitlement expansions are repealed at once, since we know that the law is vastly unpopular when taken as a whole. The threat is that “repeal” is defined-down to simply mean repealing a couple high-profile provisions, while allowing the main pillars of the law to continue untouched. This package threatens that very outcome: defining down “full repeal” and jeopardizing the entire repeal effort.
Is is possible to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act using reconciliation? The Heritage Foundation thinks so. Yet elimination of the ACA’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, the “death panel” portion of the ACA, was originally going to be part of the reconciliation bill, but was yanked because it wouldn’t be approved by the Senate Parliamentarian as germane to reconciliation. Jamie Dupree explained to Erick Erickson this morning on the Herman Cain Show that the scope of what could be repealed was limited by the way the ACA was originally passed using the reconciliation process.
One of the goals of the Republican base is to get a bill to President Obama’s desk, even though it would face a certain veto, as this bill will. That doesn’t really matter to the base, because it will get the president on record as opposing repeal despite the will of Congress. Passing the repeal bill is also important because much of the discontent with Washington that is driving the outsider presidential candidacies of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina is that politicians in office don’t follow through on what they say they will do. Here, they can.
One of the major sources of discontent with the GOP is that they never seem to get anything done, while the Democrats seem to continue to score victories. One reason for that is Republicans always go for the big wins, while the Democrats are willing to pick up small victories as they go along. Practically, though, it’s much harder to score a big win than it is a smaller one. If the Senate fails to pass the Healthcare Reconciliation Act, the purists will have managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And that does no one, except for those who want to have an issue, any good.