House Republicans are poised to reach a new milestone as they gear up for their 50th vote to repeal or dismantle Obamacare.
“You know what they say: 50th time is the charm,” mocked President Barack Obama.
The House is set to vote Wednesday on a bill by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) to effectively delay the individual mandate for one year by reducing the penalty in 2014 for not buying insurance to $0. (Inclement weather in Washington could conceivably delay the bill further.)
The Republican-led chamber passed a similar bill last July, capturing 22 Democratic votes. Now that it’s an election year, it’s plausible that a significant number of Democrats will defect, given the unpopularity of the individual mandate and the likelihood that Senate Democrats will throw the bill in the garbage once it arrives.
It’s the House GOP’s first vote to wipe out a central feature of Obamacare since the law’s major provisions took effect on Jan. 1. For all its rollout woes and negative press, millions of Americans are benefiting from the law and the consequences of full repeal are no longer theoretical. But the dreaded mandate remains an easy target that’s ripe for politicking.
“The Simple Fairness Act will give hardworking Americans a one-year delay of the individual mandate tax to provide relief and protect families from this unworkable law,” said Jenkins, the vice chair of the Republican conference.
House Democratic leaders will discuss the issue with their members on Tuesday, said a leadership aide, who declined to speculate on the number of Democratic defections.
Obama, meanwhile, is laughing off the vote.
“Maybe when you hit your 50th repeal vote, you will win a prize,” he said Friday at a Democratic National Committee event. “Maybe if you buy 50 repeal votes, you get one free. We get it. We understand. We get you don’t like it. I got it.”
It should be noted that eight of the House’s nearly 50 anti-Obamacare votes since Republicans took the majority in 2011 passed Congress and became law. They involved pre-negotiated bipartisan changes such as eliminating the 1099 tax reporting requirement and repealing the CLASS Act long-term care program.
While Republicans seek to make Obamacare a major election issue, they’re backing away from their promise of voting in 2014 on their own alternative to replace the law.