The U.S. House’s vote Wednesday to repeal ObamaCare was derided by Democrats as a base-pleasing act of symbolism lacking in substance. But the Washington Examiner’s Byron York reports that it only took a day for GOP congressional leaders to move on to what certainly qualifies as substantive:
By a vote of 253 to 175 [with 14 Democrats voting "yes"], the GOP [Thursday] directed key House committees to report on ways to lower health care premiums, allow patients to keep their current health plans, increase access to coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, and decrease the price of medical liability lawsuits. In other words, the committees are beginning work on replacing the House-repealed Obamacare with Republican health policies.
Repeal got a lot of press coverage. Replacement got far less. If they needed any reminding, GOP lawmakers are learning that controlling the levers of power in the House doesn’t mean controlling the media narrative on health care. “Democrats wanted to characterize repeal as draconian, ignoring the fact that we do have very, very positive alternatives,” says Rep. David Dreier, chairman of the House Rules Committee. “It’s been difficult for us to get that [message] out there. We said repeal and replace, and we’re in the process of replacing.”
House Republicans are pursuing a three-part strategy. Part One was repeal; they promised to do it, and they did it. Part Two is replace, which in coming months will involve House votes on a series of GOP health care measures. And Part Three — since full repeal can’t win in the Senate — is another series of votes on measures to repeal individual parts of Obamacare. The net result will be that Republicans gradually push more and more House Democrats — and perhaps some in the Senate — away from an all-or-nothing defense of Obamacare.
It will be interesting in the months to come to see what those committees report. But it’s clear that House Republicans aren’t simply passing a doomed repeal bill and then dropping the issue.
– By Kyle Wingfield
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