Skip to main content

Advanced Search

Advanced Search

Current Filters

Filter your query

Publication Types



Newsletter Article


Reconciliation to Target Part of Health Law, McConnell Says

By Paul M. Krawzak, CQ Roll Call

August 6, 2015 -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week offered his most specific comments yet on using budget reconciliation to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The Kentucky Republican said GOP leaders have determined they cannot use the expedited budget process to repeal the entire law, but they intend to repeal at least a portion.

"Now, the entire law, we believe, based on discussions with the parliamentarian, is not reconcilable, but much of it is," McConnell said in a news conference.

In general, reconciliation legislation is limited to measures that would result in changes in revenue or spending. A major challenge for Republicans is to write a reconciliation bill that would reduce the deficit, as required by the reconciliation instructions, given that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that a full-scale repeal of the law would add to the deficit.

McConnell said Republicans in both chambers are actively discussing how they will use the procedure, which allows budget-related legislation to pass in the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes needed to consider a measure.

House Republicans hope to write and potentially pass a reconciliation bill when Congress returns in September. Senate GOP leaders have not said when the Senate will act.

Acknowledging that President Barack Obama is almost sure to veto the bill, McConnell said, "It's still important to us."

It remains unclear from McConnell's comments how much of the health law Congress may try to repeal. Just last month, McConnell in a joint statement with Mike Lee, R-Utah, pledged to use reconciliation "to bring an end to the nightmare of Obamacare" and said Republicans "will continue our effort to use reconciliation—as the budget makes clear—to fulfill the promise we made to our constituents."

On Thursday, he said the "biggest candidate" for reconciliation "would be try to repeal as much of Obamacare as is reconcilable."

What that means is that while the GOP will use reconciliation for an attempted repeal of portions of the health care law, Republicans have not indicated whether they will employ a sweeping approach that would involve repealing every part of the law that could potentially be ended through reconciliation. The alternative would be to take a more selective approach that could involve repealing discrete elements of the law such as the mandates for individuals to be insured and employers to offer insurance.

McConnell did not say whether he is considering a plan for the Senate to take up a reconciliation bill that would be crafted and passed in the House and then sent over to the Senate, as opposed to the usual practice of the House and Senate each writing and passing their own reconciliation legislation before agreeing on a compromise reconciliation bill.

Publication Details