Doing the same thing over and over again — and expecting a different result — is supposed to be the definition of insanity.
Since Republicans took over in 2011, the House has voted five times to repeal President Obama’s health-care law. It has also voted 31 other times to repeal individual pieces of the law or to strip away its funding.
Still, on Thursday the House will do it all once more — voting on a new bill to repeal the law. It will pass again. Then it will die in the Senate, again.
People will laugh. Again. But, in the odd world of Congress, this behavior has a certain kind of logic.
In their fight to defeat the law, Republicans believe the only way to success is to keep making a show of their failure.
“It’s important for the electorate as a whole to understand what the vision of the Republican conference is. Our vision is not Obamacare,” said Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a freshman who campaigned on his opposition to the law.
After 36 votes, don’t people get that by now?
“I think they do,” Bridenstine said. But he said more people might be listening now, as the law’s implementation nears: “As this thing gets closer, there’s a lot more people who are understanding how it impacts them and their daily lives.”
Thursday’s vote will be the latest signal that — three years after it passed — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act continues to bedevil both parties. Democrats still have not felt the boost in goodwill that they expected as the act took effect. In fact, a recent poll showed just 35 percent of people view the law favorably.
Republicans, on the other hand, still can’t beat the law. But they can’t move on, either.
Earlier this year, in fact, GOP resentment of the law caused Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to pull back his own health-care reform bill. The problem was that Cantor’s proposal only wounded Obama’s effort, by taking some of its money away.
For the GOP’s rank and file, especially the 30 freshmen members, that wasn’t enough.
Now, those members will have a chance to kill the law. Or, at least, to try.
“The voters in my district expect me to do everything that I can to try to dismantle the law,” said Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), who returned to Congress this term after being out for 12 years. “And that includes voting to repeal it.”
The House will vote on H.R. 45, which would eliminate the health-care law in its entirety. That would mean an end to the “individual mandate” to purchase health insurance. It would also mean an end to the law’s more popular portions, such as the provision that allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.
“We do not believe that an individual mandate or Washington-based health care is the direction we ought to go,” Cantor said Wednesday, explaining the re-vote.
There is no reason to think Thursday’s bill will ever become law. Democrats still control the Senate. And, even if they didn’t, President Obama has said he would veto the bill.