McConnell ratchets up pressure on vulnerable Dems over healthcare repeal

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) is putting pressure on vulnerable Democrats to vote with Republicans to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The GOP leader called on Democrats in an op-ed to join with members of his party to unwind what Republicans are calling the biggest tax hike in recent memory.

ADVERTISEMENT
“In the eyes of the court, the failure to follow the individual mandate will get you taxed, plain and simple, and according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it hits the middle class hardest,” McConnell wrote in a commentary published by the Washington Times.

McConnell may force Democrats to vote again on repealing the entire law, as he did at the beginning of the 112th Congress. Some conservatives have pushed for additional repeal votes, but McConnell resisted before the Supreme Court handed down its decision upholding the law.

“It’s time for Democrats to stop defending the indefensible and to join us in repealing this colossal mistake,” he wrote. “The court’s decision gives us the clearest proof yet that this law has to go, so we can clear the way for common-sense, step-by-step reforms that protect Americans’ access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost.

“And that’s precisely what Republicans intend to do,” he added.

Forcing a vote to repeal the healthcare law would be symbolic as Democrats control 53 seats in the upper chamber. Repealing the law would require a supermajority or 60 votes, which means McConnell would have to pick off 13 Democrats or independents who caucus with Democrats.

President Obama would veto any repeal effort that emerged from Congress.

But votes on healthcare would put political pressure on vulnerable Democrats such as Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) who could be accused of voting for what the Supreme Court had decreed a tax.

McConnell has said repealing the healthcare law will be his first order of business if Republicans capture the Senate in November. If Mitt Romney wins the general election, then Senate Republicans could use special procedural rules known as reconciliation to repeal the Affordable Care Act by a simple majority vote.

“What many Americans may not have appreciated when the president’s healthcare bill was passed was how empty all the promises were that were used to sell it,” McConnell wrote. “At the center of them all was the claim that the failure to comply with the individual mandate would not result in a tax. But the court has now spoken: It is a tax. It falls primarily on middle-class individuals and families.

“And this is just one more reason among many for why ObamaCare must be repealed,” he said.