Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters Thursday that the House will vote again to repeal the Affordable Care Act, regardless of what the newly Republican-dominated Senate does.
“The House, I’m sure, at some point next year will vote to repeal Obamacare because it should be repealed,” Boehner said. “Now, whether that can pass the Senate, I don’t know. But I know in the House it will pass.”
Boehner’s tone was combative, especially compared to that of presumed future Senate majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
In a press conference Wednesday, McConnell said that the Senate should “go back to work and actually pass legislation” and signaled that there was room to move forward on several issues on a bipartisan basis.
Boehner, in stark contrast, said that his “job is not to get along with the president just to get along with him” and that “the American people have made it clear they’re not for Obamacare.”
Public opinion shows that Boehner has far from a mandate on repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Exit polls showed a close split between people who thought the law “went too far” and those who thought it “did not go far enough” or “was about right.”
And when surveyed about the actual benefits of the law, public opinion is even more supportive.
This is particularly true for the birth control benefit, which the public supported by a 2-to-1 margin this year in a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll.
Republicans were willing to shut down the government last year in their quest to entirely repeal the ACA, but McConnell said Wednesday that this time will be different.
“There will be no government shutdowns and no default on the national debt,” McConnell said, when asked about his past remarks that risking a default was a “hostage” that wasn’t worth shooting, but was “worth ransoming.”
McConnell’s promise to avoid government shutdown fights is sharply at odds with his statements about using the budget process to push GOP priorities.
“There are some things we can do with 51 votes—the budget,” McConnell said at the press conference. “I think it’s reasonable to assume that we will use the power of the purse to try to push back against this overactive bureaucracy.”
Depending on the timing, shutdown could be inevitable if Republicans passed a spending bill containing provisions Obama has promised to veto—such as repealing the Affordable Care Act, or any part of it like the individual mandate that would undermine the structure of the ACA if removed.
McConnell included the individual mandate, along with the medical device tax and the requirement that employers provide insurance for employees who work more than 30 hours a week, in a list of specific proposals that the GOP-controlled Senate would consider repealing in a piecemeal fashion.
This likely means McConnell is either being disingenuous with his promises of no shutdowns, or that he only intends to threaten repeal without using any political leverage to make it happen.
Either way, the House appears ready to appeal to its deeply conservative base, and the Senate could well follow suit.