Congressional Republicans: ObamaCare in Our Court Now
Democrats on the Hill trumpeted today's surprising Supreme Court ruling upholding ObamaCare as a "victory for the American people," in the words of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), while Republicans quickly latched onto the part of the decision that deemed the individual mandate to be a tax as vindication of their message all along.
Facing polls that have reflected less and less enthusiasm for the law since its passage, President Obama lauded the ruling that saved his signature domestic law by delivering a statement that was as much a public-relations announcement touting the specifics of the law as a victory lap.
Discussion over "who won and who lost," he said, "completely misses the point."
"It should be pretty clear by now that I didn't do this because I believed it was good politics," Obama sad. "...The highest court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law."
Other Democrats highlighted the fact that Chief Justice John Roberts was the one who tipped the scales in the administration's favor.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) stressed that the "conservative Roberts court put an end" to the debate of the health care law's constitutionality.
"Those who have sought to demonize health reform need to put an end to their scare tactics," Kerry said. "…Enough time has been wasted in the United States Congress on pointless repeal votes designed to score political points. Too much time has been wasted on a legislative temper tantrum."
"I have believed since the case was argued that Chief Justice John Roberts would be the swing vote, not Justice Anthony Kennedy, because Kennedy tipped his hand during oral arguments," said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). "In abandoning his conservative colleagues on the bench, the chief justice acted judiciously, not politically, exercising the presumption that a law passed by Congress is constitutional."
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who is distancing himself from the Obama re-election effort, said that the ruling required additional congressional action. "We can move forward with fixing what is wrong with this bill and saving what is right," he said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called the ruling a step in the right direction, but said "we ultimately need to do better" with a shift to a single-payer system.
"If we are serious about providing high-quality, affordable health care as a right, not a privilege, the real solution to America’s health care crisis is a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system," Sanders said.
Republicans were ready to hammer the administration with a loss at the Supreme Court, but instead were forging statements vowing that the high court, in the words of House Republican Conference Vice-Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), "will not have the final word" on the fate of ObamaCare.
"Today’s ruling underscores the urgency of repealing this harmful law in its entirety. What Americans want is a common-sense, step-by-step approach to health care reform that will protect Americans’ access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost. Republicans stand ready to work with a president who will listen to the people and will not repeat the mistakes that gave our country ObamaCare," said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), reflecting both the congressional and campaign dimensions to come in the health care fight.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that the ruling "sets the stakes for the November election." The Romney campaign reported receiving nearly half a million dollars in online donations in the few hours after the decision.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced that the House would vote to repeal ObamaCare after returning from recess the week of July 9.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold ObamaCare is a crushing blow to patients throughout the country," Cantor said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the floor today that the decision puts the focus on repeal and replace.
“The Democrat health care law has made things worse; Americans want it repealed; and that’s precisely what we intend to do. Americans want us to start over. And today’s decision does nothing to change that," McConnell said.
“The court’s ruling doesn’t mark the end of a debate. It marks a fresh start on the road to repeal. That’s been our goal from the start. That’s our goal now. And we plan to achieve it."
The conservative Republican Study Committee preceded today's ruling with the release of a 27-page list of more than 200 pieces of health care-related legislation that its members have introduced over the past 18 months.
"The fate of ObamaCare is not yet set," said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an RSC member. "The House has voted to pass my language to repeal 100 percent of ObamaCare. Every Republican senator has voted to do the same. On the other hand, President Obama and Democrats in Congress remain as committed as ever to forcing the unconstitutional law that bears the president’s name upon an unwilling and disapproving public."
For the focus on their drive to move forward and strike at ObamaCare through other channels, Republicans didn't hold back their emotions on the ruling itself.
“I’m shocked. I’m stunned. And I’m extremely disappointed. This is a sad day for the Constitution," said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas). "The government can now tax not only your income, but also tax your behavior. Where does it stop?"