Senate Republican Leader Makes Move for Repealing Obamacare

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 26, 2011   |   12:18PM   |   Washington, DC

On Tuesday night, just before President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell started the process of attempting to get the Senate to improve the state of the nation by repealing the Obamacare bill.

The legislation became law much to the chagrin of pro-life groups upset by its allowance of abortion funding at taxpayer expense, rationing, and a lack of protections for medical workers not wanting to participate in abortions.

The House has already approved legislation to repeal the Obamacare law and McConnell started the legislative process of forcing the Senate to take up the legislation by employing a Senate rule typically reserved for party leaders that allows them to bypass committee action on legislation and place the bill directly before the Senate. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid mostly controls the Senate calendar and which bills have an opportunity for debate and a vote and the Rule 14 motion McConnell used takes a couple of days to move along before any potential battle on bringing up the bill can begin.

The motion could result in a vote on repeal as early as tomorrow, but Democrats are expected to object to the vote and McConnell would need 60 votes to overcome the objection and allow a vote on the repeal bill. That is considered unlikely.

“I don’t know why in the world they wouldn’t want to have a vote on repeal and proudly vote against it,” McConnell told reporters earlier Tuesday, according to Politico. “But if they choose not to — to have the vote in a, sort of, volunteer — voluntary way, we will have it, I assure you.”

“In the Senate it’s difficult to deny a vote,” he added.  “And let me just ask this – why would our friends on the other side not want to have this vote? Only three Democrats in the House have voted to repeal it – only three.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, introduced legislation to repeal Obamacare — essentially the Senate version of the bill the House previously approved. DeMint, joined by 35 Republican co-sponsors, is moving ahead with an effort that is a companion to but different from the McConnell procedural effort to approve the House bill.

Because they likely won’t get to vote on repeal, the DeMint bill allows senators to go on record supporting a repeal.

“Republicans are standing with the American people who are demanding we repeal this government takeover of health care,” DeMint said in a statement. “Repealing ObamaCare is vital to the future of our nation and the health of our people.

Eleven Senate Republicans had not yet signed on as co-sponsors though they could join in the near future. They include Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Dick Lugar of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

Although Reid has promised the Senate will not vote on the repeal bill, McConnell has not backed down and told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday, “The Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn’t want a vote on this bill, but I assure you we will.”

Brian Fallon, a Democratic spokesman, told Fox News after McConnell’s move that it will not work.

“Republicans are wasting time fighting old battles,’ he said, adding, “Three out of four Americans oppose full repeal.” That’s despite polling data showing Americans still oppose the bill and support repeal.

But comments Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, made to CBS News make it appear he thinks a vote on some sort of rollback is inevitable in the Senate.

“Mitch McConnell has the right to offer an amendment,” Schumer conceded. “If he does…then we will require them to vote on the individual protections in the bill that are very popular and that even some of the new Republican House members have said they support. So in the end, their repeal bill is going to be so full of holes it looks like Swiss cheese.”

When Congress passed the government-run health care bill, it did so without any limits on abortion funding and language mandating taxpayer financing of abortion in certain circumstances.

Obama eventually issued a controversial executive order supposedly taking the abortion funding issue off the table.

However, virtually every pro-life group said it would not mitigate the abortion funding because it doesn’t have the effect of law, could be reversed in the future, and because it didn’t tackle much of the abortion funding in the bill. The Obama administration could also ignore the order and not put it in place when the health care law goes into effect.

Arizona, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, and Louisiana have passed similar bills that have already been signed into law by governors in those states and several other states are expected to consider legislation in their upcoming legislative sessions. Governors in Oklahoma and Florida vetoed similar legislation.