By Juan Williams - 05/13/13 09:00 AM EDT
The GOP majority in the House is reaching for new heights of political absurdity this week with its 37th vote to kill all or part of the Affordable Care Act.
Let us briefly turn to political reality. There is absolutely zero chance that ObamaCare will be repealed while Democrats control the Senate and President Obama is in the White House. Reality also compels some mention of the fact that the GOP has never held a vote on any alternative plan for dealing with the nation’s out-of-control healthcare spending.
The attacks on ObamaCare are of a piece with the Republican strategy of using filibusters to delay and block Obama administration nominees, leaving key posts empty. A quarter of the filibusters in Senate history have been used against Obama’s nominees.
The press has largely snickered at the abusive behavior on Capitol Hill. Reporters treat it as predictable rough play between polarized parties. But the Republicans have taken the fight way beyond hardball.
The GOP is subverting the legitimate, Constitutional function of the government because its dislikes the liberal policies of a president who has been elected twice by the American people.
Just last week the Senate GOP engineered another breakdown. Every Republican member of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee failed to show up for a vote on the nomination of Gina McCarthy as the administration’s next head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
That sad act came a day after the GOP delayed for a second time any vote on the administration’s nominee for labor secretary, Thomas Perez. This time, Republicans said the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee could not meet for a vote on Perez due to an arcane rule against panels acting after the Senate has been in session for two hours.
“This pointless obstruction is extremely disturbing,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the committee chair in describing the “procedural tricks,” being used to block Perez.
“This type of blanket, partisan obstruction used to be unheard of — now it has become an unacceptable pattern,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) of the GOP’s successful effort to block McCarthy.
The latest reminder of the “unacceptable pattern” comes from Republican Sen. David Vitter (La.). He promises to impose a silent filibuster threat requiring Perez to get 60 votes — not a simple majority — to win confirmation.
Meanwhile, the GOP is applying its obstruct-and-delay tactic to a bigger target.
The GOP’s top goal now is to throw the biggest possible wrench into the implementation of ObamaCare.
Last week, GOP leaders in the House and Senate announced that they would refuse to nominate any candidate to serve on the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which was created as part of ObamaCare to cut Medicare’s reimbursement rates.
The Republican guerilla warfare against ObamaCare has already included charges that the administration is violating freedom of religion by requiring employers to offer insurance that covers contraceptives. Then came claims that the new law’s online application process is an administration ploy to register more Democrats.
Recently, they have trumpeted anxiety among Democrats about how ObamaCare will work.
They are on talk shows telling Americans ObamaCare is so bad even the president admits it will have “glitches and bumps.” They fail to add that the president said any big, new government program has “glitches and bumps.”
The latest GOP front in the war on ObamaCare is the refusal to fund efforts to educate the public about how the new healthcare law works.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the Senate Finance Committee in April that she requested $10 billion in implementation funds but got only $1 billion. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah.), the ranking Republican on the panel, accused Sebelius of improperly diverting money from other programs to pay for implementation. The secretary countered that, under the law, the administration is required to properly educate the public about its benefits.
Instead of casting more futile votes to repeal ObamaCare, the House GOP could be working on a “doc fix” to increase payments for doctors who serve Medicare patients. They are also wasting an opportunity to confirm a permanent leader for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a job key to the successful implementation of reform.
“Obstructing the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act has become a priority for House Republicans,” Rep. Steve Israel (NY) head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said recently. “We’ve got to be proactive and not allow them to [bring it down] to serve their partisan goals.”
When will Senate Democrats fight back?
Juan Williams is an author and political analyst for Fox News Channel.