Incoming Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell is set to make repealing Obamacare one of the first votes of the new, Republican-controlled Senate.
“Number one: We certainly will have a vote on proceeding to a bill to repeal Obamacare,” McConnell told Roll Call on Monday. “It was a very large issue in the campaign.”
That doesn’t mean repeal will actually go through — McConnell was sure to note that while Republicans control the Senate, bills still end up on President Obama’s desk.
“It is a statement to the obvious, however, that Obama — of Obamacare — is the president of the United States,” McConnell said. “What we want to be is a responsible, right-of-center governing majority. … What we can’t control is what the president does with legislation we put on his desk.”
But McConnell isn’t backing off his pledge to dismantle the health-care law. He told Roll Call that Republicans are reviewing how they could use the budget reconciliation process to chip away at Obamacare. The process would allow Republicans to pass a bill without needing more Senate Democrats to vote for Obamacare’s repeal as well — with 54 Senate seats, Republicans don’t have a filibuster-proof majority.
Apart from repeal, the new Congress is set to tackle unpopular provisions of Obamacare bit by bit.
“We actually had a show vote on the medical device tax … and 79 senators, including that great conservative Elizabeth Warren, said they didn’t like the medical device tax, so we will go at that law — which in my view is the single worst piece of legislation passed in the last half century — in every way that we can,” McConnell said.
The new majority leader emphasized that he’s ready to work with Democrats come January as well, in contrast to Sen. Harry Reid’s tenure as the Senate’s top Democrat.
“Up to half the calls I got after the election were from Democratic senators. I’m not implying that they were happy I won, but they were awfully curious as to whether I really meant it early last year when I pointed out that we needed to run the Senate in a very different way,” McConnell said. “I think there’s going to be a bipartisan gratitude for having a chance to be relevant, to not be marginalized.
He’s bullish about winning bipartisan support on some changes to Obamacare and a number of other issues, emphasizing that the Democratic Party is largely split after the walloping they took in the midterm elections.
“They are the ones in disarray. They are the ones criticizing Obamacare publicly as a mistake, a political mistake,” McConnell said. Top Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said last month that passing Obamacare when Congress did was a political mistake for Democrats because the law didn’t help the middle class. (RELATED: Schumer: We Shouldn’t Have Passed Obamacare In 2010 [VIDEO])
“I think that’s what you ought to keep your eye on because that’s what makes possible, on a bipartisan basis getting to 60 votes, which we will need to do on virtually everything except the budget.”