Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellStates sue to block last-minute Obama environmental rule GOP senators introducing ObamaCare replacement Monday Senators introduce dueling miners bills MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday said that language repealing ObamaCare is the most likely choice for a budget reconciliation package expected in the next year.
The tactic allows Senate Republicans to pass legislation with a simple majority instead of 60 votes.
“The use of reconciliation is in active discussion by the Senate and the House,” he told reporters at a press conference touting the Senate’s accomplishments of 2015.
“We are looking at ways in which we would deploy budget reconciliation in a way that [President Obama] might not agree with us but that’s still important to us," he said.
"And the biggest candidate for that, not surprising to you, would be to try to repeal as much of ObamaCare as is reconcilable."
Some Republicans, such as Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), a close ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), want special budgetary protections to be reserved for legislative priorities that have a better chance of getting signed into law by Obama.
But McConnell laid to rest the notion that he would use the tactic on anything other than a repeal of ObamaCare.
He noted that it would not be possible to repeal all of the healthcare law using this method, because only parts of it that affect spending, taxes or the deficit are eligible for the reconciliation process.
Nevertheless, McConnell said, large parts of the law could be wiped out with a package that could pass with only Republican votes under the special budgetary process.
“If you’re looking for candidates for the reconciliation process, I would put that one at the top of the list,” he said.
Some Republicans would prefer to use it to pass tax reform, because Obama is certain to veto anything that hollows out his signature domestic healthcare initiative.
Doubts were raised last month about using reconciliation to repeal ObamaCare when Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said they hadn’t yet drafted a reconciliation package.
Cole said he preferred using reconciliation to move a budget deal that lifted spending caps, instead of what he described as a “dead-on-arrival repeal of ObamaCare.”
“I certainly would favor the repeal of ObamaCare, but he's not going to sign that,” he told The Hill in June. “And it's not going to make any difference because he's never on the ballot again. To me, it makes more sense to put something that Democrats won't support, but he might sign, on his desk.”
Cole cited several proposals that Obama has endorsed despite opposition from Democratic lawmakers, such as making wealthy beneficiaries pay more for Medicare, or indexing Social Security payments to the Chained Consumer Price Index, which would reduce benefits.