Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that Obamacare’s health insurance mandate is in fact a tax levied on those who do not purchase insurance, Senate Republicans will look to repeal the full law through the budget reconciliation process.
Reconciliation was used to push Obamacare through the Senate in 2009. Generally reserved strictly for budget-related measures, it eliminates the possibility of a filibuster, meaning Republicans would only need 51 votes to repeal that portion of the law – or even the full law itself.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) seemed open to that approach during a speech at The Heritage Foundation shortly after the Supreme Court handed down its decision. The court’s ruling “does present some options for us” to pursue more unconventional options for repeal, DeMint said. He mentioned reconciliation as a potential avenue.
A senior Senate Republican aide involved in the repeal effort later confirmed to Scribe that the GOP will use the budget reconciliation process in an attempt to repeal the full law, not just the portion requiring all Americans purchase health insurance.
While a repeal effort via reconciliation would only require a majority of senators to pass, Republicans will likely wait until next year to employ the tactic.
Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said he expects Republicans to use reconciliation in the repeal effort during the 113th Congress. Kyl is not running for reelection.
Mike Franc, Heritage’s Vice President of Government Studies, explained the details of reconciliation’s applicability thusly:
Now that the individual mandate has acquired the official constitutional status of a “tax”, there is no longer any doubt that the Congress, and more specifically the Senate, can repeal it pursuant to the simple majority vote threshold available under the Budget Act’s reconciliation process. Some Senate insiders were concerned that the reconciliation process would leave too much of Obamacare intact, including the individual mandate. But today’s decision, while alarming in so many other ways, dispels with that concern.
The mandate is now a revenue provision. Therefore, it is germane and not subject to a Senate parliamentary point of order to strike it from a repeal bill. The Senate’s filibuster process that would require a supermajority of 60 Senate votes to approve repeal is now irrelevant.