Steve King Sponsors Another Obamacare Repeal Bill, But This One Will Actually Pass

Don't look now, but just days into the new congressional term, and the GOP is already flexing its muscles. It's nothing new, exactly, but now it's got the weight behind it: Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King is sponsoring another Obamacare repeal bill. But unlike the ones that came before it, this one is primed to actually pass both houses of Congress. In other words, after years and years of trying (largely futilely and symbolically), the Republicans will finally force President Obama to veto a repeal of his signature legislative achievement.

It's no surprise coming from King, whose bluster and condemnation of the Affordable Care Act has been on full bore since before its passage, and who's always curried favor with party's far-right activist base. This, after all, is the same fellow who's been on the front lines of the GOP's embarrassing rhetoric on immigration — he once compared allowing immigrants into the country to picking out a dog — and he made his post-midterm election strategy pretty plain to the press.

Namely, he wants to pass conservative bills, and force Obama to affirmatively say "no" to them. That way, the issues in question are primed for widespread debate during the 2016 presidential election — basically, King wants to turn 2016 into a backend referendum on Obama-era policies. He admitted as much to The Daily Beast in late October, right before the Republicans swept both houses of Congress on Nov. 4.

It’s not so much about what could be passed but setting the agenda and debate for the next presidential race. ... It makes so much difference to presidential candidates to have a Congress that can lead on a constitutional conservative agenda.
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So, what has to happen for King's bill to actually pass? For years, the explanation has gone something like this: it'll easily pass the House, because well, these bills basically always do, but Senate Democrats will never let it get to Obama's desk. But now, thanks to an abysmal midterm season that saw nine seats swing to the Republicans, there's no bulkhead anymore between Obama and a passed bill repealing his health care law. The Democrats have just 44 seats in the Senate now — enough to filibuster such a bill, theoretically, but it's profoundly unclear whether the party is unified enough to risk taking that step, especially when they know they can kick it upwards without fear of it being signed into law.

Basically, however frustrating it is to still have people railing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, in spite of the soaring levels of insurance coverage it's brought to millions of Americans — let's not forget, the Supreme Court has another chance to rip it apart, if they so choose — King's political strategy here is sound. If the GOP really wants to destroy the health care law (and they do, both to restore a failing status quo and to crush the cornerstone of Obama's legacy), they need this to be a hot issue in the 2016 campaign.

And to do that, they need to keep hammering the point home. Say what you will about the Republican Party, but they're nothing if not determined — I truthfully didn't think they could keep the discipline or momentum on this issue for so long, but with 2016 already looming, they're sure giving it a go.

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