GOP may bring back budget bill to strike blow at ObamaCare

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Some Republicans in Congress are eyeing a second chance at this year’s budget process as a way to deal an immediate blow to ObamaCare in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.

House leaders could revive this year’s budget resolution — which was never brought up for a vote — during the lame-duck session that starts next week, according to lawmakers.

{mosads}The unusual move, which typically takes place by April 15, would allow Republicans to make good on their campaign promise to repeal the healthcare law swiftly following Trump’s surprise victory. 

The only other option is waiting until next year’s appropriations process, which would likely mean Trump could not sign off on an ObamaCare repeal bill until late summer or fall.

Approving the budget resolution in the lame-duck session would clear the path for a legislative tactic known as reconciliation, which allows Congress to approve certain spending-related bills without the threat of a filibuster.

It’s the same way that Democrats passed ObamaCare in 2010.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Flores (R-Texas) said members are now considering reviving this year’s budget resolution as a fast-track way to achieve an ObamaCare repeal.

“We’d get two shots at reconciliation in one calendar year,” Flores said.

For the gambit to work, Congress would have to push back its spending bill deadline until March, but members say it’s do-able.

It’s an interesting idea,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a senior appropriator, said Thursday. “If our leadership wants to do that, I would be inclined to be supportive.”

GOP leaders are already planning to use budget reconciliation to repeal most parts of ObamaCare next year under a President Trump.

Republicans tested the process last year, and it remains their best shot at dismantling the healthcare law without a larger majority in the Senate.

But repealing the law in an even more divided House and Senate will be tougher than Trump has let on. Most staffers and policy experts expect it could take months, if not years, for parts of the law to be effectively scrapped.

Many conservative lawmakers and outside groups worry about the political consequences of waiting several months to repeal ObamaCare after this week’s Republican sweep.

And any bill to repeal ObamaCare would almost certainly fail to do so immediately.

The most likely option is a one- or two-year delay, according to one conservative who closely follows GOP healthcare policy.  

“It took Democrats 13 months to finally figure something out,” the conservative policy expert said. “There are no expectations that [Republicans would] have something right away.”

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