The Republican-controlled House of Representatives returns to work tomorrow and the first thing on its agenda is repeal of the Obama administration's health care reform.
The House will return to the people's business this week, holding a vote to repeal ObamaCare and taking the first steps toward replacing it with common-sense reforms that will lower health care costs and protect jobs, House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, said Sunday on his blog.
According to the Speaker, the House will begin consideration of H.R. 2, which would fully repeal the Affordable Care Act of 2010, on Tuesday with a vote scheduled for Wednesday. On Thursday the House will take up H. Res. 9 which will instruct several Congressional committees to report back with legislation for replacing the ACA.
With a House majority, the Republicans should be able to repeal the law, but with Democrats still holding sway in the Senate, the bill is likely to be rejected there.
Several Democratic Senators in leadership positions have already sent Boehner a letter telling him that the repeal will not advance in their chamber.
If House Republicans move forward with a repeal of the health care law that threatens consumer benefits like the donut hole fix, we will block it in the Senate, Democrats said.
The Democratic senators who signed the letter are Majority Leader Harry Reid, NV, Dick Durbin, IL, Charles Schumer, NY, Patty Murray, WA and Debbie Stabenow, MI.
We urge you to consider the unintended consequences that the law's repeal would have on a number of popular consumer protections that help Middle Class Americans, they wrote.
The letter is unlikely to stop House Republicans who have said that, if the Senate rejects their repeal, they will start to repeal the ACA provision by provision.
Each repeal measure must, nonetheless, pass in the Senate. A few provisions -- like the 1099 reporting regulation, whereby businesses would be obligated to file 1099 forms with the IRS for every business-to-business transaction of $600 or more -- will probably find Democratic senators onboard. Durbin has said that repeal of the 1099 reporting provision would get Democratic support.
But exceptions to Democratic opposition to healthcare law repeal are rare.
If the two houses of Congress get gridlocked over ACA repeal, it may prove politically costly to Republicans.
While the 2012 election will hinge on the performance of President Obama, the next Republican presidential candidate will be scrutinized based on what his or her party has looked like under Boehner, said Julian Zelizer, professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University.
Zelizer said Republicans are under pressure to deliver on their campaign promises.
Now that the GOP is not just the opposition party, Republicans will face the burden of having to demonstrate to voters what they are all about in the post-Bush era and what they would do if they regain full control of Washington, Zelizer said.
The Tea Party made the problem of the federal deficit and the promise of balanced budgets campaign priorities and candidates courting their votes responded accordingly, he said.
Responding to grass-roots activists, many candidates promised that they would do what was necessary to get the nation's fiscal house back in order, Zelizer said. As Boehner said in his inaugural speech, 'Our spending has caught up with us, and our debt will soon eclipse the size of our entire economy. ... No longer can we kick the can down the road.'
But can Boehner and the Republicans deliver.
The new Republican majority, before it had even started, has conceded that it will have trouble fulfilling its promise in 'A Pledge to America' to cut at least $100 billion out of next year's budget, Zelizer said.
Despite opposition to the ACA by business associations and Republican rhetoric that repeatedly calls the law job-killing, the Congressional Budget Office has said that repealing healthcare reform will increase the federal deficit.
Zelizer said the Tea Party movement was as much a rebellion against the Republican establishment as it was a rebellion against President Obama.
The movement has been very clear in calling on candidates to change the way Washington works. But accomplishing that goal will be extraordinarily difficult. Substantive government reform is not on the agenda.
Zelizer said that while Americans continue to oppose government, they like some government programs, such as Medicare and Social Security.
Even with health care, negative polls about government intervention in health care are balanced out by public support for specific components of the legislation, Zelizer said.
Most of the Republican leadership, including Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, are Washington veterans who are comfortable operating within the existing system, Zelizer said.
Even many younger Republicans raised some eyebrows when they attended a lavish party in a posh Washington hotel, along with some of the city's most powerful lobbyists and corporate donors, Zelizer said.
The next few years will tell us a lot about the character of the Republican Party and the governing priorities of its leaders, Zelizer said. Voters will be watching the GOP closely.