McConnell will push for Senate repeal vote before Nov. elections

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Sunday said the Supreme Court ruling upholding the president’s healthcare reforms cleared a path for the Senate to undo the law and that he would push for a repeal vote before the November elections.

“We will also be insisting that we have a vote on ‘ObamaCare’ again before the election,” McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday.”

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The GOP leader said the Supreme Court’s decision to hold the individual mandate as constitutional under Congress’s taxing powers meant senators needed only 51 votes to repeal that particular provision.

“Reconciliation is available because the Supreme Court has now declared it a tax,” McConnell said. 

“They have unearthed the massive deception that was practiced by the president and the Democrats, constantly denying that it was a tax,” he said. “As a tax it is eligible for reconciliation.”

But McConnell appeared to acknowledge that passing a repeal vote in the Democratically-controlled Senate would be a difficult proposition and said that were Republicans to retake the chamber in November he would make repeal a priority.

“If I’m the leader of the majority next year, I commit to the American people that the repeal of ObamaCare will be job one,” he said.

McConnell’s statement pushing for a repeal vote represents a shift for the GOP leader, who in March had told reporters that no decision had been made about whether to call for another vote before the presidential election. 

“We’ve had the votes to oppose ObamaCare. We’ve had the votes to repeal ObamaCare,” McConnell had said in March. “Every single Republican voted to oppose the law in the first place and repeal it later. We know where everybody is. It’s a matter still under discussion. We haven’t decided yet.”

McConnell last year offered an amendment to repeal the president’s Affordable Care Act but his measure was defeated in a party-line vote. The minority leader has since faced consistent pressure from conservative groups and from GOP Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Rand Paul (Ky.) to schedule another vote.

The high court's Thursday ruling to uphold much of the Affordable Care Act in a 5-4 ruling has reignited GOP opposition to the law, with lawmakers and presidential candidate Mitt Romney vowing to pursue a full repeal of the legislation. 

The House is expected to vote on July 11 after returning from recess on repealing the law. Past repeal votes though have failed to garner support in the Senate.

McConnell on Sunday said Republicans were optimistic voters would back their efforts to undo the law, which he called the “single worst piece of legislation passed in modern times.”

The Kentucky senator also pressed GOP arguments that the individual mandate is a tax hike and a burden on the still struggling economy, a characterization that the administration has rejected.

McConnell on Sunday blasted the law as a “middle-class tax increase,” but would not say if GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health plan’s individual mandate was also a tax. 

“I think Gov. Romney will have to speak for himself about what was done in Massachusetts,” McConnell said. 

Democrats have rebuffed Romney's criticisms of the president's healthcare plan, by claiming the reforms he implemented when Massachusetts governor were a blueprint for the administration. Romney though has said that he never intended for Massachusetts measures to be implemented nationally.

This story was updated at 3:23 p.m.