McConnell: Republican candidates will call for repeal of health bill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that Republicans running in this fall's midterms will campaign on repealing the Democrats' healthcare reform bill should it pass.

McConnell held a press conference at the Capitol soon after President Barack Obama urged lawmakers to take a final "up-or-down vote" on the health bill, but did not use the word "reconciliation."

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"I assure you that if somehow this bill is passed, it won't be behind our Democratic friends it will be ahead of them because every election this fall will be a referendum on this issue," McConnell said. "And there's an overwhelming likelihood that every Republican candidate will be campaigning to repeal it."

Almost all Republican lawmakers have cautioned Democrats that they will lose control of Congress in the fall if they use the budget reconciliation process to move healthcare legislation.

Some have went so far as to say that Republicans will run on repealing the Democratic bill should it pass. McConnell became the highest-ranking senator to say that GOP candidates will follow that path.

During remarks today, Obama acknowledged that pushing the bill through could be politically risky, but said that he believes it is the right thing to do.

“I don’t know how this plays politically, but I know it’s right," he said during remarks Wednesday. "And so I ask Congress to finish its work, and I look forward to signing this reform into law."

Healthcare negotiations came to a standstill after the Senate Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate with the election of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) Democrats have weighed using the reconciliation process, which would allow them to pass fixes to the House and Senate bills with a simple majority instead of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.

McConnell said that Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) who said thatdrafted a rule that prevents anything but budgetary measures from being considered under reconciliation, has called the use of the rules to pass healthcare an "outrage."

But Democrats say that Republicans used the process many times to pass divisive legislation, such as President Bush's tax cuts. 

McConnell did not say whether or not Republicans would work to repeal the bill in the next Congress, but retiring Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said that repeal would be a "main effort" should the bill pass.

The Kentucky Republican said that the 2010 election results will mirror those in 1994, when the Republicans took back Congress and 2006, when the Democrats took a majority. Democrats passed a tax hike in 1993 and the Republicans authorized a cutback on healthcare entitlement program rates in 2005. 

"What happened after the 1993 vote in 1994? The Congress switched hands. What happened in 2006 after the 2005 vote? Congress switched hands," he said. "You ignore the overwhelming desires of the American people at your own peril. And we have recent examples to demonstrate that."

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