Advocates for health care reform like to say they worked for more than a century to get a substantive bill through Congress and signed into law. Opponents say they can scrap the whole thing in two years.
Republicans, even the most adamant anti-health care law crusaders, know that Wednesday’s House vote to repeal the law will not directly result in a timely end to the legislation President Obama spearheaded through Congress during his first year and a half in office.
But they know it’s a start.
The repeal vote represents the ceremonial beginning of what will surely be a long process to eliminate the new health care entitlement that will take full effect by 2014. Those leading the charge for repeal, like Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, have their calendars marked for Jan. 20, 2013 — a day that will kick off the first week Republicans could prospectively control the House, Senate and White House, and thereby pass the clean repeal they will have been dreaming about for years.
For Republicans who want to see the law ultimately repealed, that long journey begins today.
“This is the beginning of the date to repeal Obamacare,” King told reporters Tuesday. “This is not the end of the repeal of Obamacare. It is not even the beginning of the end of the repeal of Obamacare. It is the beginning of the repeal of Obamacare.”
King joined a cadre of conservative Republican House members, including Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert and a handful of Tea Party activists outside of the capitol Tuesday afternoon to commemorate the next day’s vote.
“This is going to be a debate that goes on not just today and tomorrow and next week,” King said. “It’s going to go on for the next year or two. It’s probably going to go on until we elect a president that will sign a final repeal of Obamacare. So this is an ongoing debate.”
“It couldn’t come a moment too soon,” Bachmann added.
The House is expected to pass the health care repeal bill Wednesday and then Republicans plan to use it to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, to put it to a vote in the upper chamber. Reid has vowed that he won’t, but as long as he keeps it off the Senate floor, Republicans will use that against him and accuse Democrats of appearing scared to defend the legislation.
On Thursday, House Republicans will begin the process of passing more health care bills to replace the old one, including a measure to restrict insurance companies from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions.
In the meantime, House Republican leaders will work to stall funding of key portions of the health care law, and place as many roadblocks as their constitutional powers allow toward providing the funds the law needs to be carried out.
“We will do everything we can to delay and defund provisions of the bill so we can get some discussion going on how to replace it,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Tuesday.
It is unlikely that Republicans will take the vote to repeal the health care law, shrug their shoulders when it doesn’t reach the Senate, and move on. They appear to be in it for the long haul. Similarly, Democrats show few signs of backing down either, a clear indication that the fight over health care is far from over.
“We aren’t going to just check the box off and say that we had one vote and we’re going to move on to other topics,” Bachmann said Tuesday. “We’re staying full square behind the repeal of Obamacare and our commitment to defund it going forward.”