The Senate is moving fast in its fervent desire to get rid of pieces of Obamacare: Debate on new legislation begins Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last month “We will move right after the first of the year” on the getting rid of the law. Sure enough, a measure was introduced in the Senate Tuesday, the first day of the 115th Congress, that starts the process of repealing the nearly 7-year-old law. Since it was originally passed, Republicans have railed against the law, which requires nearly everyone to have health coverage or pay a penalty.
While the Senate begins debate, President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Capitol Hill to meet with Democrats in an effort to stop the GOP effort.
House Democrats have been plotting a war on the repeal effort. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is asking Democratic colleagues to plan press events Saturday highlighting what she calls the risks of repeal and ending Medicare guarantees. Some Republicans have suggested alternative ways of insuring seniors, though people now with Medicare or close to the age of eligibility would keep their coverage.
Repeal won’t come right away, even though Republicans are determined to push it through quickly. It requires a series of complex procedural steps.
What’s crucial is that the measure proposed Wednesday would ultimately allow key pieces to be repealed with 51 Senate votes. Sixty is often required in the 100-member Senate to limit debate. Republicans have a 52 to 48 Senate majority.
The debate is to continue next week, when Democrats are expected to offer amendments. If the Republican plan passes, four committees: House Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce and Senate Finance and Health, Labor, Education and Pensions, would write specifics by Jan. 27. Their findings would be included in legislation that eventually would be considered by the full House and Senate.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was enthusiastic about the Senate proposal. “This is the first step toward relief for Americans struggling under Obamacare,” he said in a statement.