Republican House freshmen are making their presence known in Wednesday's House floor debate on repealing last year's healthcare law, both in the strength of their opposition to the details of the law and their insistence that law is unconstitutional.
Freshman Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) said that "healthcare is not a right, and if we are not careful the feel-good, empty promises made in this law will bankrupt this country and leave our grand kids to pay for it." Democrats last year argued extensively that healthcare should be a right for all Americans, and Rokita's remarks indicate that more heated debates on how to approach healthcare reform can be expected later this year.
Another freshman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), said the PPACA amounts to "generational embezzlement" and argued that "the Constitution places limits on Congress." Several other new Republicans raised arguments that the Constitution does not allow Congress to mandate that Americans buy health insurance or face fines, and made references to the Constitution in their arguments against the law.
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) said the U.S. is a "founded on liberty," and said it's Constitution gives Congress "certain enumerated powers," not unlimited power. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) said he took an oath to uphold the Constitution, and noted that Virginia has passed a law that exempts residents from the law's requirement to buy insurance. Griffith also noted that Virginia did not accept British rule hundreds of years ago, "nor will we accept Obamacare."
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) said he rises to "defend the Constitution," and called for the repeal of the "socialistic" and "out of touch" healthcare law.
Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) said today that failure to repeal the PPACA would amount to "gross fiscal irresponsibility" by Congress.
Other freshman Republicans were less dramatic but equally opposed to the law this morning. Rep. Dennis Ross (Fla.) said he opposes the law's "one-size-fits-all" approach to healthcare. Rep. Robert Dold (Ill.) said last year's law only addresses access to insurance, but does not address the quality of healthcare, and said improvements to the law are needed.
The tough rhetoric reflects the continuing divide over how to address healthcare issues in Congress. Republicans today indicated they support a few concepts in the current law, such as finding ways to ensure coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and allowing dependents to remain on their parents' insurance until they turn 26. But even here, Republicans are still expected to pursue these objectives in different ways, and Democrats are wary of repealing the PPACA while new alternatives are created.
Elsewhere, Republicans indicated their ongoing support for options such as tort reform, allowing insurance to be bought across state lines, and creating purchasing pools for small businesses.
Updated at 2:40 p.m.