The GOP’s months-long debate over when and how to send a repeal of Obamacare to the president’s desk now appears to have an answer.
They can’t do it all at once.
Repealing the law “root and branch” is probably out of the question, the chamber’s parliamentarian is hinting, because some parts of Obamacare don’t affect the federal budget. That’s a must in order to use the obscure procedure known in Senate parlance as reconciliation, which allows lawmakers to avoid the 60-vote filibuster hurdle and pass bills on a simple majority vote.
That’s not the GOP’s only problem. Under those rules any Obamacare repeal has to reduce — not increase — the deficit. So Republicans will have to pick and choose which parts of the Affordable Care Act they most want to ditch.
Obama will, of course, veto any bill that significantly damages his signature domestic policy achievement. But the entire process has the makings of a difficult political exercise that will reveal something about the GOP’s priorities when it comes to the reviled law, forcing the party to go beyond the pile-on repeal rhetoric and say specifically what it would do and how it would pay for it.