Countless Republicans made the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act the centerpiece of their campaigns this fall, and now the incoming GOP majority is planning to deliver on that promise. The No. 2 House Republican, Eric Cantor of Virginia, announced Monday that the repeal vote would be held Jan. 12, just a week into the 112th Congress.
“Obamacare is a job killer for businesses small and large, and the top priority for House Republicans is going to be to cut spending and grow the economy and jobs,” Brad Dayspring, a Cantor spokesman, said in a statement. “Further, ObamaCare failed to lower costs as the president promised that it would and does not allow people to keep the care they currently have if they like it. That is why the House will repeal it next week.” According to Politico, the bill will be made available Monday night for members to read in advance of a Rules Committee meeting on Thursday and a Friday floor debate.
A House vote to repeal the bill is partly a symbolic gesture, since the Senate Democratic majority will almost certainly block its passage in the upper chamber. (Harry Reid promised as much Monday.) But Republicans are hoping to peel off enough Democrats to build momentum for a subsequent effort to whittle down the bill by attacking it piece by piece. “Watch what happens,” incoming House Energy and Commerce chairman Fred Upton told Fox News Sunday. “There will be a significant number of Democrats, I think, that will join us.”
The repeal vote is not a surprise; the GOP had previously promised to hold it before the State of the Union address on Jan. 25. But both the timing of the vote and the language announcing it are telling. Republican leadership often refers to the health-care reform law with the preceding adjective “job-killing,” even though, with most of the bill yet to go into effect, it’s difficult to say how it will ultimately effect job growth or costs. (As Kate noted last week, the LA Times found that small businesses were using the PPACA’s tax credits to offer insurance to employees who previously lacked it.) The GOP is intent on framing repeal as an integral part of its overarching effort to slash government spending and goose the economy. Hard to argue with that, right? But like the policy, the politics aren’t that simple. With a new set of potentially popular provisions taking effect on Jan. 1, Democrats are betting that as more people reap the benefits of the bill, the backlash will build against the party bent on taking it away.