Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) downplayed the prospects of repealing Obamacare if Republicans win control of the Senate next week, which they are slightly favored to do in numerous forecasts.
Appearing Tuesday on Fox News, he was asked by host Neil Cavuto if he’d push for “defunding and getting rid of the Affordable Care Act” as majority leader.
“Well, it’s the top of my list, but remember who’s in the White House for two more years. Obviously, he’s not going to sign a full repeal,” McConnell said. “It would take 60 votes in the Senate. Nobody thinks we’re going to have 60 Republicans. And it would take a president — presidential signature. No one thinks we’re going to get that.”
But McConnell said he intends to to force Democrats to take tough votes on scrapping unpopular pieces of Obamacare, such as the medical device tax and the individual mandate.
“There are pieces of it that are extremely unpopular with the American public that the Senate ought to have a chance to vote on: repealing the medical device tax, trying to restore the 40-hour work week, voting on whether or not we should continue the individual mandate, which people hate, detest and despise,” McConnell said. “I think Obamacare is the single worst piece of legislation passed in the last 50 years.”
Senate Republican incumbents and candidates are talking less about Obamacare on the campaign trail, and some are even supporting popular components like the Medicaid expansion, a sign that the politics of the law are changing as Americans enjoy the subsidies and other benefits.
“I’d like to put the Senate Democrats in the position of voting on the most unpopular parts of this law and see if we can put it on the president’s desk and make him take real ownership of this highly destructive Obamacare,” McConnell said. He added that Barack Obama “is the president of the United States until January of 2017, and people need to understand that that constrains our ability to do for this law what we’d like to do, which is to get rid of it.”
McConnell faces his own reelection battle against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who has put up an unexpectedly strong challenge. The Republican leads by 2.7 percentage points in the TPM PollTracker average.