Today marks the beginning of the Republican rule of the House of Representatives. At noon, the Republicans start a 20-day plan to vote on undoing President Obama’s laws—starting with ObamaCare.
They’re ambitious—changing house rules, attempting to repeal a major piece of legislation, and trying to keep their campaign promises.
Can They Really Appeal ObamaCare?
Doubtful. If they were to pass the bill, it would still need the approval of the Senate and then it would receive a veto from President Obama. And while the House could override the veto, there’s not enough votes in the Senate.
Rush Limbaugh asked today if we could remember the last time a party tried to repeal a major piece of legislation. I’m having a hard time remembering when Congress overrode a piece of legislation.
So, Is This a Waste of Time? Pure Theatrics?
In some ways, yes. It seems futile, but it is also a demonstration to both the Democrats and the people that voted for them. Hopefully it will be a large number of votes so that it shows the strength of the GOP.
Of course, this 20 day sprint is also taking place before the Senate convenes and before the State of the Union, so that means that they really don’t have much of resistance.
What will be interesting is how the State of the Union Address goes this year—not only how Pres. Obama deals with a larger percent of the crown hostile to his agenda, but also whether any of the Supreme Court justices show up.
Will Anything Get Done?
Having a split Congress is going to create some problems. The last two years the House was more liberal than the Senate, and things had to be dialed back within the party. Now that the House is much more conservative than the Senate, that could present interesting situations.
Oh, and the Senate isn’t what it was either:
The upper chamber’s new margin could force the two sides into more-bipartisan talks than the narrow negotiations held in 2009 and 2010. Then, Democrats needed to win over just a couple of Republicans to overcome filibusters, but now Democrats need at least seven Republicans – and the GOP needs at least 13 Democrats – to maneuver.
“Any solution now is going to have to have at least 10 to 20 senators from the other side,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), the No. 3 Republican leader.
That will probably make Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a critical player in the coming months, since he could either engineer bipartisan agreements or be a deal-breaker. [In House, new Republican majority plans to act fast to undo Obama’s agenda]
Looks like it’ll be possible, but it will take some negotiation.
Things to Watch
- See what happens the first time the GOP wants to get something through the House that’s controversial—do they stick to their rules?
- How many GOP House members break from the pack on different votes?
- Is the Tea Party Caucus strong, does it get mentioned in the news, or did it fall apart?
- Will the GOP be able to refrain from earmarks?
These markers will be good indicators of how things are going and whether it’s just more of the same.