Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) proposed a constitutional amendment Tuesday that, if approved, would nullify Obamacare’s individual mandate. The amendment is the latest in a string of failed GOP attempts to repeal Obamacare, which many Republicans still view as unconstitutional.
The “Right to Refuse” amendment would make any laws that tax Americans who fail to purchase goods or services unconstitutional, targeting the Affordable Care Act’s stipulation that nearly all Americans must purchase health insurance. The amendment was introduced by Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) in the House in February.
In a press release, Rubio cited the recent Internal Revenue Service scandal as one of his reasons for introducing the bill:
“ObamaCare is a disastrous policy that is not only destructive to job creation, it will also unleash the corrupt and scandal-ridden IRS on taxpayers simply for not buying health insurance,” said Rubio. “We should put our faith in the American people to decide what goods and services they want to buy, not have Congress dictate it and have the IRS empowered to harass Americans to make sure they do it.”
The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that Obamacare’s individual mandate could be considered a tax, and therefore was upheld under the constitution. But that hasn’t stopped many Republicans from claiming Obamacare is unconstitutional — the act has survived at least 37 repeal attempts since Republicans took control of the House in 2011, the most recent repeal vote occurring in mid-May. Since news broke in May that the IRS flagged certain conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status for additional scrutiny, several Republican leaders have used the scandal to question whether the IRS can be trusted to implement Obamacare.
Constitutional amendments are far more difficult to pass than bills — amendments proposed by Congress require a two-thirds majority vote in the House and Senate. With a Democrat-controlled Senate, Rubio and Palazzo’s amendment would have difficulty achieving even a simple majority. Rubio has been billed as a rising star in the Republican party and likely 2016 presidential candidate, but his fervent opposition to Obamacare — along with several other positions — show that his views don’t stray far from the status quo of the Republican party.