Will they or won’t they? The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein says they will — meaning Republicans and their pledge to repeal ObamaCare. Despite rumors about delays and concerns over procedural roadblocks, Republicans on Capitol Hill tell Klein their commitment to immediate repeal is “ironclad.” They already have a strategy laid out for success, which borrows a page from Harry Reid’s playbook:
In the weeks following the presidential election, there’s been some debate about whether Republicans would actually go through with repealing Obamacare as opposed to getting cold feet. But after a number of conversations with senior GOP leadership aides in both chambers of Congress, this is the message I’ve received: Republicans are moving full-speed ahead on Obamacare, and could have a bill repealing much of the law on President Trump’s desk within weeks of him being sworn into office. …
The new Congress will be sworn in on Jan. 3 and will immediately get to work on a mid-year budget resolution. The budget resolution would require just a simple majority, and because it’s only a resolution, it doesn’t require President Obama’s signature. All that’s necessary is for the House and Senate to pass the same resolution. As a result, this part of the process could take place when Obama is still in office — and Republicans expect to have it finished by the end of their second week back, or around mid-January.
As an actual budget document, it won’t have much meaning, as the federal government will already be in the midst of the 2017 fiscal year and spending levels have already been set through the appropriations process — so it’s unlikely to be very contentious. Even though it won’t have an effect on spending itself, it will be significant procedurally, because the document will be the vehicle for Republicans to include reconciliation language. That language will be necessary for Republicans to pass a repeal bill through the Senate with just a simple majority, thus avoiding any attempt by Democrats to block the bill.
According to Senate rules, reconciliation bills cannot be filibustered, which is why Republicans only need 51 votes to succeed. They do, however, require a presidential signature, so they will have to time the bill in order to avoid Barack Obama’s veto pen (and phone). Donald Trump will take the oath of office less than three weeks after the start of the session, so it’s not going to happen until then — and might take a bit longer, since the budget resolution itself will still get some debate and editing along the way. The 2017 fiscal year has only been set through the end of April thanks to the use of continuing resolutions, so there still may be a few contentious issues left to hammer out. And be sure to real all of Klein’s lengthy report, which touches on some of the differences between Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell about what can and cannot go into a reconciliation package.