How Many Times Will The House Vote Against Obamacare? At Least Once More, And It's Symbolic
In fairness, when the GOP scored so big during the midterms, everybody kinda knew this was going to happen. That doesn't necessarily make it less tiresome, though. Once again, after dozens of attempts to weaken, shatter, and crumble the law to varying degrees, the House Republicans are at it again — they'll be holding yet another Obamacare repeal vote next week, setting a mark of 56 votes on Obamacare through the last four years of the Boehner speakership. It's enough to make you wonder how many times the House will vote against Obamacare when it's all said and done, given this impressive stretch of single-minded focus.
Sad to say, it's impossible to know the answer for sure. Especially so because of uncertain times ahead for the health and integrity of the law, thanks to a major Supreme Court challenge that begins tomorrow. The case, King v. Burwell, threatens to punch holes in the Affordable Care Act's functioning if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs. As such, however unwelcome, there's a distinct possibility that the GOP won't need to be so aggressive in the long term if the case goes their way. But if the law emerges unscathed, there's no telling how many more votes we might see — we've got a minimum of two more years locked in with John Boehner and his House majority, after all.
For the record, it should be noted that those 56 Obamacare votes aren't all repeal votes. This is sometimes misstated, and conservatives often bring it up. In reality, only six of the House GOP's votes since 2011 entailed full and complete repeal, as detailed by The Washington Post. Nine of the votes were actually signed into law by President Obama for one reason or another, be it desired reform, or the outcome of a political negotiation.
It's in those remaining 41 votes that find the true, in-the-weeds gristle of the House Republicans' ongoing crusade — myriad bills defunding and repealing specific components of the law, aimed at making the whole thing unmanageable. They haven't gone anywhere, obviously, and as long as Obama remains president, they won't. But all the bombastic opposition does raise the question of what the GOP would actually do if they got their way.
According to Talking Points Memo, health committee chair Sen. Lamar Alexander indicated Tuesday that if the Supreme Court guts the law via King v. Burwell and strips tax credits from millions of enrollees, it's possible they'll offer no legislative response. That's basically the same accusation that's been leveled whenever they've called for full repeal, which is why congressional leaders have been trying to craft a viable replacement recently.
As for next week's scheduled vote, there might be an ulterior motive at play — as explained by The Atlantic's Russell Berman, there's a highly symbolic aspect to the vote, which Boehner mentioned to Fox News' Bret Baier in his recent interview. Namely, it's a gesture to let the Republican newcomers on Capitol Hill get a full repeal vote under their belts.
Forever having a yea or nay vote on a litmus-test issue on your record can be a risky venture in the long term, depending on how politics shift over time, but right now much of the GOP base is thirsty to know their elected officials are making good on their promises and fighting to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. As such, especially as the law faces a Supreme Court challenge, the House wanted to get this in early. If you're wondering whether it'll be the last, though, I wouldn't hold my breath.
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