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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Hemel & Herzig:  ‘Reconciliation’ Could Roll Back Obamacare But Roil Senate

Wall Street Journal op-ed: ‘Reconciliation’ Could Roll Back Obamacare but Roil Senate, by Daniel J. Hemel (Chicago) & David J. Herzig (Valparaiso):

The effort by the GOP to peel away parts of the Affordable Care Act could also lead to a showdown over how the Senate runs, due to Republicans’ use of a special Senate rule that allows certain legislation to move through with a simple majority, rather than the 60-vote supermajority typically required.

In this rollback push, Republicans are turning to a process called budget reconciliation. Resorting to reconciliation avoids the filibuster, but it will also force Senate Republicans to make difficult decisions in the coming months.

Most significantly, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his caucus may be forced to choose between their antipathy toward the ACA, also known as Obamacare, and their allegiance to longstanding institutional norms. In the end, the scope of ACA repeal will likely depend on whether Senate Republicans decide to score political victories in the short term or to maintain the Senate’s unique culture for the long haul. ...

Senators steeped in institutional culture may be reluctant to violate the longstanding practice of deference to the parliamentarian. They might also fear that if they disregard the parliamentarian, Democrats will do the same the next time they are in power. We may soon learn whether Republicans are willing to upend Senate tradition and risk retaliation down the road in order to bury the Obama administration’s signature legislative achievement.

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What tradition? It seems that if a matter is progressed (passed or made effective) by Reconciliation, it may be repealed by Reconciliation. Will this also be the argument where the bar was lowered by Reid to fill government appointments and now the opposition must live with the change?

Posted by: Tom N. | Jan 3, 2017 7:02:43 AM

Where was this respect for senate tradition when they rammed it through via reconciliation in the first place? Obamacare can depart on the same crooked horse it rode into town on.

After the Democrats made so many bold proclamations a couple of months ago describing how they were going to go full nuclear to ram through amnesty and a Scalia replacement, I don't really have a lot of sympathy for them now that the shoe is on the other foot. I look forward to drinking their deeply ironic tears.

Obamacare Delenda Est.

Posted by: Jim W | Jan 3, 2017 1:25:34 PM

Roil the Senate? LOL. The latest study from GWU indicates projected job losses from full repeal of ACA in the neighborhood of 3 million by 2020, along with direct budget costs of $350bb.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jan 6, 2017 6:26:00 AM