By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Now that the newly elected members of the U.S. House have voted to repeal ObamaCare, lawmakers will now focus on fulfilling the second part of their “repeal and replace” pledge.
The Hill is reporting that the House voted last night to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known ObamaCare, by a mostly party line vote. All 242 Republicans voted for repeal, as did three Democrats – Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.) and Mike Ross (Ark.), all of whom voted against the law last year.
As a result, lawmakers in the House came to work this morning ready to tackle the next part of the process, which is to take up a resolution directing committees to develop alternatives to the law.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters there will be no arbitrary deadline set for these committees.
“I don’t know that we need artificial deadlines set up for the committees,” Boehner told reporters. “We expect them to act in an official way, allowing all of their members on their committees to be heard — Democrats and Republicans.”
The pressure is now on the Senate to take up the measure to repeal, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has already said he will not allow the bill to come to the floor.
In response, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., accused him of being afraid to allow a vote.
“If Harry Reid is so confident it [would] die in the Senate, he should bring it up if he thinks he has the votes [to defeat it],” Cantor said.
Even though the bill would certainly fail to pass in the Senate, a vote would force some moderate Democrats who are up for re-election in 2012 to cast an unpopular vote that could haunt them later and cost the party more seats in the upper chamber.
Even though outright repeal is not possible, analysts say much can be done to block implementation of the law.
“The most straightforward way to do this is to deny funding for key provisions,” writes Nina Owcharenko for the Washington Times. “For example, lawmakers could bar the Internal Revenue Service from using any funds to enforce the mandate requiring individuals to buy health insurance.”
Lawmakers could also exercise their powers under the Congressional Review Act which allows them to halt onerous rules and regulations before they do damage to business or other sectors of the health care economy.
“And Congress should exercise its oversight authority, conducting fair, open and thorough hearings on how the law is being implemented,” Owcharenko continues.
“Last year’s rush to passage left many questions unanswered — and left many key implementation decisions in the hands of HHS [Dept. of Health and Human Services]. These decisions — for example, the administration’s use of waivers and exemptions from its own rules — deserve scrutiny. So does the impact of the law on state budgets, the work force and the overall economy.”
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