With election night upon us, there are still many questions and concerns lingering from the past four years. One topic, which resulted in the House of Representatives switching party majority in 2010, is the president's health care law or, as it is more commonly known, ObamaCare. As if the American people "cleaning house" wasn't heard loud and clear, a Rasmussen poll shows from March 2010 (when ObamaCare was passed and signed into law) to November 2012 likely U.S. voters have consistently favored the repeal of ObamaCare by at least 50 percent.
While the House will likely remain in the hands of the Republicans, the Senate control will either rest with the Democrats or Republicans by only a few seats. This is important because under the normal Senate process if there is no unanimous consent a 60 vote threshold is required, which would make the legislative process untenable. This will play into the fight to repeal ObamaCare tremendously. As legislation has already been passed on multiple occasions in the House, it is the Senate that is the key for repeal. A major impact on the passage, and what Republicans hope will lead to a repeal of the law, is a process called reconciliation.
This legislative strategy is practiced in the United State Senate and is intended to allow consideration of a budget bill with debate time limited to twenty hours per Senate rules. In addition to limited debate time, there are also limits on amendments that can be offered. The original purpose of reconciliation was to submit legislation, changing existing law in order to bring spending, revenues, or the debt-limit into conformity on a budget resolution. Since its birth in 1974, reconciliation has been morphed into a strategic legislative tool. In 2010 reconciliation was twisted and rammed through the Senate to pass the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which was the catalyst needed to implement ObamaCare. In passing this legislation, the door was open for ObamaCare to be easily passed through Congress and into law.
Despite what scenario plays out from the current election, Republicans have made it clear they will try to undo ObamaCare by the same means it was pushed through Congress, reconciliation. With many Senate seats in play, Republicans are vying to meet the needed 51 votes to repeal the law in its entirety through reconciliation. If this is not an option, many Republicans have already hinted at trying to repeal some of the provision within the law piece by piece. Although, they have their work cut out for them with Democrats being projected to keep control of the Senate. The only way Republicans can use reconciliation is if a budget resolution is passed first which the Democratic controlled Senate has not done since April 29, 2009.
Once a budget is passed, Republicans can set reconciliation into motion. Although, the most controversial provision in ObamaCare, the individual mandate, will not directly affect federal spending or revenues and therefore, would not fall under reconciliation. This would leave Congress with the option to slowly pick apart ObamaCare and address the issues that do not fall under reconciliation separately. It is unclear how they would do this yet.
Only time will tell the path that Congress will take, but tonight's election is one step closer to reading the legislative map before us. The polls have reflected Americans' voices clearly since the passage of ObamaCare in 2010. Now it is up to Congress to heed the word of the "people" and take action.