As some Republicans in Congress have recently considered a bill to expand an Obamacare program — an initiative that ended up being scrapped on Wednesday afternoon because the party could not secure enough votes from conservative members — some of the newest members of the GOP caucus want to take exactly the opposite approach. Freshman House Republicans are pushing for yet another vote on repealing the health care law, even though they acknowledge the effort is “just symbolic,” so they can tell their constituents they tried to get rid of the law.
The fact that the GOP bill to modify Obamacare was dropped on Wednesday points to the fact that a rift is forming in the Republican Party. Top leaders have accepted the fact that Obamacare is now the “law of the land,” and are therefore focusing their efforts on tweaking some of the health law’s provisions rather than pushing for full repeal. But that’s not enough for many of their right-wing colleagues, who are eager to accumulate their own anti-Obamacare records even if that involves voting on measures that are doomed for failure:
“The guys who have been up here the last two years, we can go home and say, ‘Listen, we voted 36 different times to repeal or replace ObamaCare.’ Tell me what the new guys are supposed to say?” second-term Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) said Wednesday at a forum sponsored by the Heritage Foundation. [...]
With repeal of the law seemingly impossible for the next four years, top Republicans are instead eyeing more modest measures that could change the law or its implementation.
But that’s not sufficient for many hard-liners in the conference who want the party to continue to push for full repeal.
“I want a chance as a freshman to do that, even if it’s just symbolic,” Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) said.
Freshman members of Congress may be envious of the 36 different failed attempts to toss Obamacare that they missed out on, but those votes came at a cost. Between 2011 and 2013, Republicans wasted about 88 hours and $50 million in taxpayer money on their failed votes to repeal Obamacare. Meanwhile, the 112th Congress failed to pass a single piece of legislation to create jobs. Those misplaced priorities earned that body of lawmakers the unfortunate distinction of being the least productive Congress in history.
Nonetheless, the majority of the GOP still isn’t ready to change course. At the beginning of this session, Tea Party members introduced legislation to totally repeal the law even though they admitted their efforts were likely in vain. And last month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asserted that “when it came to Obamacare, we gave it everything we have, everything we have, and we just lost” — only to go on to say that his party is “not backing down from this fight” anyway.