Anti-Reform Chamber Won’t Be Helping GOP With Calls To Repeal Health Care

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Republicans in Congress say they’ll campaign on repealing the health care legislation passed last night, and several already have introduced bills to roll back the new measure. Conservative groups are passing around “repeal the bill” petitions on the Internet and boasting big numbers. But it seems like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce isn’t on board, despite spending more than $144 million on an ad campaign against passage of the measure.

President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued a statement Sunday night saying the bill “ignores the will of the American people” and isn’t real health care reform.

“Should the legislation passed by the House today become law, the Chamber will work through all available avenues–regulatory, legislative, legal, and political–to fix its flaws and minimize its potentially harmful impacts,” Donohue said. “Through the largest issue advocacy and voter education program in our history, we will encourage citizens to hold their elected officials accountable when they choose a new Congress this November.” But in an interview published today with Wall Street Journal reporters and editors, Donohue said the Chamber won’t be pushing for repeal.According to the Journal, the Chamber won’t back a repeal despite calling the measure “very, very expensive.”

From their piece:

But Donohue made it clear the chamber won’t be spending any of its substantial war chest on a campaign, favored by Republicans, to repeal the legislation. The Washington-based chamber, which represents three million businesses of all sizes, spent heavily in an unsuccessful effort to kill the health bill. Minutes after Democrats won passage in the House Sunday night, the chamber issued a statement calling the vote “a wrong and unfortunate decision that ignores the will of the American people.”

But once the bill becomes law, Donohue said, “If people want to try and repeal, let them. We’re not going to spend any capital on that.” Instead, he said the chamber will push for changes to the bill when it enters the regulatory stage, always a key pressure point.

In the 2,800-page bill “you’ve probably got 15,000 pages of regulation before this is finished,” he said. “We have to see what we can do to deal with some of the issues that seem most egregious,” and mount challenges in Congress and potentially in the courts, he said.

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