While some Republicans are rallying behind a “repeal and replace” strategy, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, “told attendees at a Health Affairs Media Breakfast that while repeal of the new law is unlikely; shutting down funding to implement it could be just as effective“:
BURGESS: By far the most succinct trajectory to stop the problems that I see coming forward with this bill would be in the Congressional activity of holding the purse strings and the funding of the activities, particularly the fundings [sic] related to the department of Health and Human Services and regarding implementation….And therein is an opportunity for those of us who think that this was a bad product and goes way too far in a direction where the country was not ready to go, and that would be blocking the funding for implementation. That in and of itself, obviously, would provoke some sort of crisis and showdown between Congress and the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Burgess’ strategy was most recently floated by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who shut down the government in 1995. Speaking at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference this past April, Gingrich outlined a two-tiered strategy for the GOP if they win elections in 2010 and 2012: 1) Refuse to fund any of Democrats’ “radical efforts” if Republicans win control of Congress in November, and 2) Repeal “every radical bill passed by the [Democratic] machine” if Republicans win Congress and the presidency in 2012.
The defund strategy is a short term solution designed to get around Obama’s expected veto of repeal legislation and it’s been endorsed by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). “You just gotta take appropriated funds to actually come through the process to fund the hiring of new employees, to create these new bureaucracies. I can’t imagine a Republican Congress is going to give this President the money to begin this process,” Boehner told Fox News in March. “I am confident we will get majorities in both houses in the fall. And that means the power of the purse…If we cut off the money, it doesn’t take an override to a veto,” McCain also suggested. Whether Republicans will actually have enough votes to cut funding for such popular reforms as premium subsidies, however, remains to be seen.
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