January 05, 2017
After four years, Mike Pence is back on the Hill -- but not as a congressman from Indiana. The new vice president-elect returned to his old stomping ground this week, as he starts paving the road for his boss's first major act: gutting Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood. Long after the rest of Congress had adjourned for Christmas, Republicans were busy at work, mapping out an alternative to President Obama's biggest failure.
On Tuesday, GOP leaders officially set those wheels in motion, as Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) took the first step in repealing the health care law. By introducing a budget resolution, he's set in motion the process for reconciliation, which gives Republicans the ability to pass a measure with just a simple majority instead of the normal 60-vote threshold. "The Senate is poised to pass a repeal resolution that will set the stage for true legislative relief from Obamacare that Americans have long demanded, while ensuring a stable transition in which those with insurance will not lose access to health care coverage,” he said. Enzi went on to vow a "stable transition period" and "more choices."
As part of the bill, the Budget chair guaranteed plenty of late nights for members by including an order that congressional committees agree on a repeal plan by January 27. And while a lot of details are up in the air, one is not: stripping the taxpayer funding of the country's biggest abortion business will absolutely be a part of any proposal offered. Donald Trump has said so; GOP leaders have said so; and last night at dinner on the Hill, members again told me so. In the meantime, the next few weeks are crucial -- and one prominent figure will be a familiar one: Mike Pence.
The vice president-elect has already traded soundbites with President Obama, who was also on Capitol Hill to galvanize the Democratic resistance to any GOP plan. After hundreds of votes from his party to hollow out parts of the "Affordable" Care Act over the years, the minority will need the pep talk. For the past several years, the law has been just as unpopular with some Democrats, who are tired of taking a beating at the ballot box for the broken promises of Obamacare. So now, for politicians like Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to take swipes at the effort is a little disingenuous, Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) pointed out. "I'm frankly disappointed that the Democratic leader has now taken the position of obstruction when it comes to reforming a health care program that they know is flawed."
Pence piled on with a truth that everyone but liberals seems to understand: "The simple fact is the American people know who owns Obamacare... it's Obama and the party of Obama," he said. They're the same people who own the culture of death and taxpayers' forced partnership with it. With your help, both pillars of the Obama era will finally come toppling down. Contact your members and encourage them to support the budget resolution that will spark a return to America's longtime ideals.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.