The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of key provisions in the Affordable Care Act, the health care law commonly known as Obamacare, on Thursday, but on Capitol Hill, Republicans are vowing to press on with plans to fully repeal the law.
Repealing the law won't happen before January 2013. It would be dependent on a triple Republican victory this November: Mitt Romney would need to defeat President Barack Obama, Republicans must hold their majority in the House, and they must also gain enough seats in the Senate so they have at least 50 of their own in the upper chamber.
What about the filibuster? Don't you need 60 votes to do anything in the Senate?
Not in this case. Because Chief Justice John Roberts' majority opinion ruled the individual mandate a "tax," a Republican-led Senate could repeal that provision--and others--using what is called "budget reconciliation," a procedural tactic that requires only a simple majority vote. The Republican vice president, in this hypothetical scenario, would break the tie. (Democrats used the same method in 2010 to pass the health care bill.)
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Budget reconciliation is at least one option that Senate Republicans are considering.
"There are a lot of ways to protect the American people from this horrible law, and Republicans are looking at all of them," John Ashbrook, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, told Yahoo News when asked if the party's congressional leadership was open to repeal using that process.
In the meantime, House Republicans are scheduling their own vote to repeal the law on July 11, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced Thursday. The vote would be symbolic because it would never pass the Democrat-controlled Senate. Also, the same House already voted to repeal the law in January 2011, during the same Congress that is up for re-election in November.
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Speaking outside the Senate floor Thursday, Senate Democratic leaders criticized Republicans for moving forward with another repeal vote after the Supreme Court ruled its key provisions constitutional.
"Now that all three branches of government have ratified the law, the time for quarreling is over," said New York Sen. Chuck Schumer. "The time for disputing its validity is over. Congress should now return to its full time focus: The issue of jobs and the economy in America."
"If you ask people what they want us to focus on," he added, "it's not rehashing health care."