CREDIT: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
WAUPUN, WISCONSIN — In just four years, House Republicans have racked up more than 50 votes to repeal Obamacare. When asked at a town hall if they show any sign of stopping, Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) suggested that the votes will continue indefinitely as long as freshman Republicans are elected.
A large part of that, Petri admitted, is because freshman Republicans want to go on record voting to repeal, even though they fully know it will not move forward.
“They’re new members, they want to be on the record against it,” he said. “Constituents are saying you haven’t done anything, so the new members say — bring it up so we can vote against it, so we can say at least we tried. That’s what’s going on.” Asked if that means Congress could reach 100, Petri said, “No, because every Congress starts over, so the next Congress will start with new [crosstalk].”
It’s an opinion held by some of Petri’s colleagues, too. As Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) put it in January, “Republicans are never going to stop trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”
Now several years into its implementation, Obamacare has withstood both a Supreme Court decision and a presidential election. It is not just a hypothetical policy at this point; it responsible for falling premiums, better access to preventative care, and extending coverage to at least 9.5 million previously uninsured Americans. Most Americans, even those who live in red states, don’t support completely repealing it.
There are signs the repeal fever could be cooling among Republicans. Petri, who is retiring at the end of his term, faced backlash alongside other Republicans who threatened the government shutdown and a default on U.S. debt in order to delay Obamacare’s individual mandate. Meanwhile, Republicans have also attracted criticism from their own party for failing to rally behind an alternative plan to the health reform law.