On Tuesday, the House is scheduled to vote on a pair of bills: One would repeal funding from the health-care bill for states to establish insurance exchanges, and the other would repeal mandatory funding for school-based health center construction.
The two measures — expected to pass with near-universal Republican support — are just the latest in a series advanced by the majority that seek to dismantle the reform bill plank-by-plank. Last month, the House approved a measure repealing the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and the chamber passed a spending resolution this year that would have defunded several parts of the law.
The House also passed a bill to repeal the entire health-care measure in January, before shifting to a more piecemeal approach.
Of course, the House-passed bills face little chance of becoming law, given Democrats’ control of the White House and the Senate. But the strategy enables Republicans to fulfill two campaign promises at once.
In addition to chipping away at the health-care law, a House Republican leadership aide said, the votes this week are “part of our larger efforts to eliminate wasteful spending government-wide, and that means eliminating some of these mandatory spending programs.”
For example, the insurance-exchange bill up this week has been dubbed by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) a “slush fund designed to push the states into doing what the administration wants using financial leverage.” He has also noted that, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, passing the bill would “save more than $14 billion by 2021.”
Rep. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.), the Commerce panel’s top Democrat, countered before the bill was approved by the committee last month that Republicans claimed to support state-based health reform, but then voted “to take away money states need — at a time of enormous pressure for them — to develop their own, unique insurance exchange programs.”
In January, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) pledged to bring at least one bill cutting spending to the floor “each and every week,” so health care has been only one of several GOP targets. The chamber has also approved bills slicing funds for different provisions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform measure, as well as a bill ending public financing of presidential election campaigns and party conventions.
Whatever the GOP’s rationale, Democrats are unimpressed by this week’s schedule.
“They come back this week and instead of focusing on jobs they’re going to be voting to take away more Americans’ health care and do nothing to grow our economy,” said Nadeam Elshami, spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).