Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) told his colleagues this week that he does not want to vote again on repealing President Obama’s healthcare reform law until after the November elections.
The GOP’s game plan on healthcare is politically sensitive because influential conservative activists have called for repeated votes on repeal. But many Republicans on Capitol Hill want to focus on other issues in the coming months, most notably gas prices and the economy.
Republican lawmakers note that repealing what they call “ObamaCare” can be accomplished in 2013, but only if they control the White House and Congress. The votes are not there this year, they add.
Members of the Senate GOP conference are split on the issue. Conservatives such as Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) claim they should remind voters they are committed to repealing the $930 billion initiative.
Other GOP lawmakers say they are already on record in favor of repeal and believe another vote is not needed.
During a private lunch meeting on Tuesday, McConnell argued that forcing a vote on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would give vulnerable Democrats a chance to vote for it and provide them with political cover heading into the election, according to senators who attended and requested anonymity.
“[McConnell] said that we had a debate on it and everyone is on the record. He said some Democrats might vote for the amendment and it would give them cover in an election year,” said a GOP senator.
Sure seems like a bad idea to me. If the Democrats vote to repeal ObamaCare, they’d likely lose part of their base, so it’s not a painless “cover” vote.
Yes, Harry Reid may want to leave ObamaCare repeal votes on his desk, but this announcement actually helps that strategy. If he gets flak for not bringing them up for a vote, all he has to say is, “even Mitch McConnell said he doesn’t want these considered.”
And telegraphing, “hey, we’re taking this issue completely off the table” strikes me as bad optics at the very least, and more likely a major strategic blunder.