Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives passed a budget-reconciliation bill Wednesday that repeals Obamacare and ends taxpayer funding for abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that HR 3762, the “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act,” would also reduce the deficit by $516 billion over a decade.
This is the most significant step toward repealing Obamacare to date. As House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) points out in an op-ed at National Review Online, the Republican-led House has already voted more than 50 times since 2011 to repeal all or part of the law. As with the efforts before Wednesday’s reconciliation vote, it is understood that President Obama will veto this legislation, too.
But the passage of this budget-reconciliation bill signals something bigger that should give conservatives a real sense of achievement: it is the first time that Republicans have ever successfully sent a bill repealing Obamacare to the president’s desk, forcing him to veto what the American people overwhelmingly support.
In an appearance on Fox News, House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price explained how historic this moment is for congressional Republicans:
“For the first time, we are going to be able to have a bill pass through the Senate and the House, get it on the president’s desk, that repeals Obamacare. That fulfills our responsibility to represent our constituents, and recognize what they know and that is that this law is not only harming the health of so many Americans in many, many ways across this country but the health our of economy. So what we will do is put this bill on the president’s desk that will repeal Obamacare, and will let the president then say whether or not he stands with the American people or whether he’s getting in the way of positive solutions.”
The bill’s passage in the House and Senate underscores the necessity of across-the-board conservative victories in 2016. We must win the White House and retain the House and Senate, too. With control of both legislative bodies and the presidency, Republicans are poised to use this same budgetary process, among others, to repeal the disastrous health care law. Wednesday’s vote proves that Republican lawmakers have the political will to stop Obamacare, but that voters must do their part by electing a conservative president to sign such a repeal into law.
Wednesday’s budget-reconciliation bill also represents promises fulfilled to conservatives who have spent the past five years demanding that congressional Republicans use the “power of the purse” to end Obamacare once and for all. Until January 2015, Republicans did not have complementary efforts in the U.S. Senate, as it was controlled by Democrats unwilling to even make modest modifications to the law.
But within just four months of taking control of both chambers, Republicans in the House and Senate passed a balanced budget that paid off the national debt, fixed broken entitlement programs, laid the foundation for tax reform and repealed Obamacare. They followed up that success with a budget-reconciliation bill, which only requires 51 votes in the U.S. Senate, to pass out of both chambers legislation that would use fiscal tactics to dismantle the law.
Within just four months of taking control of both chambers, Republicans in the House and Senate passed a balanced budget that paid off the national debt, fixed broken entitlement programs, laid the foundation for tax reform and repealed Obamacare
Unfortunately, there has been no widespread mobilization of activists to congratulate conservative lawmakers on this milestone. There have been no words of encouragement from the perpetually outraged class, which seems remarkably disinterested in actual policy achievements in pursuit of their goal to repeal Obamacare. And since they so often take their cues from opposing what Democrats support, perhaps aggrieved conservatives should consider the condemnation of the bill from leading congressional Democrat Chris Van Hollen (D- Md.), who called it “shameful.”
This budget-reconciliation bill is a winner in the short term as well as for the GOP’s long-term strategic prospects. Republicans are fighting to repeal Obamacare and end federal subsidies of Planned Parenthood while also preparing for a Republican White House in 2017. They are honoring their commitments to those who elected them — to fight hard and to fight now — while making incremental gains that expand their appeal to the general public. This is smart conservatism.
Republicans are winning, but they need support from conservatives — from talk radio hosts to county GOP leaders — instead of censure when their initiatives fall short. If conservatives want more victories like this reconciliation bill, perhaps they should let their Republican lawmakers know they approve.
Ellen Carmichael is a Senior Writer for Opportunity Lives. You can follow her on Twitter at @ellencarmichael.