A trio of Tea Party senators, including two presidential candidates, has accused House Republicans of breaking their promise to repeal Obamacare through a procedural maneuver known as reconciliation.
House Republicans plan to use the reconciliation process, which prevents bills related to the budget from being filibustered in the Senate, to pass legislation that amounts to a partial repeal of Obamacare.
“This simply isn’t good enough,” Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) said in a statement joined by Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas). “Each of us campaigned on a promise to fully repeal Obamacare, and a reconciliation bill is the best way to send such legislation to President Obama’s desk. If this bill cannot be amended so that it fully repeals Obamacare pursuant to Senate rules, we cannot support this bill. With millions of Americans now getting health-premium–increase notices in the mail, we owe our constituents nothing less.”
Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.), the third Tea Party senator in the GOP presidential field, “declined” to join the statement, according to a Senate Republican aide involved in the process. ”Senator Paul fully supports full repeal of Obamacare,” Doug Stafford, chief strategist for Paul’s presidential campaign, tells National Review. “He won’t however turn down the chance to vote to repeal large amounts of this destructive bill. As a physician he knows the sooner we get rid of Obamacare the better.”
The House GOP bill would repeal Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates, as well as two prominent taxes associated with the health-reform law. “However, the committee supported Budget Chairman Tom Price’s amendment dropping repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board after a ruling from the Senate parliamentarian,” according to Politico.
#share#The Senate parliamentarian’s office has been the focal point of the Obamacare-repeal debate in recent months, as most Senate Republicans concluded that the reconciliation process could not be used for a full repeal. “The parliamentarians may not allow the entire thing to be repealed, but they might allow certain really central parts of it to be repealed,” a senior GOP aide told NR in April. “And our posture has always been sort of twofold: One, that we wanted reconciliation to be used for Obamacare repeal; and two, that we would argue strenuously that as much of it be accepted [for reconciliation] as possible.”
#related#If Senate Republicans voted to overrule the parliamentarian by a simple majority, they would be using the same “nuclear option” used by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) to change the rules pertaining to the filibuster of judicial nominees in 2013. At the time, Republicans accused Reid and his fellow Democrats of “breaking the rules to change the rules” by “nuking” the filibuster.
Mitch McConnell signaled the difficulty of such a full repeal ahead of the 2014 midterms — “it would take 60 votes,” he said on Fox News, before an aide quickly walked back the statement. “He knows it won’t be easy,” the aide said at the time. “But he also believes that if Republicans are fortunate enough to take back the majority we’ll owe it to the American people to try through votes on full repeal, the bill’s most onerous provisions, and reconciliation.”
— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.
Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated since its initial publication.