Yesterday’s landmark ruling that declared ObamaCare unconstitutional has already effected the political maneuvering in Congress regarding healthcare reform. Democrats are now considering options that would remove the individual mandate from the legislation. And Senate Republicans vow to force a vote to repeal ObamaCare outright as early as this week.
U.S. District Federal Judge Roger Vinson of Pensacola, Florida, struck down the entire bill, stating that all of its various provisions revolve around its central plank–the ‘individual mandate’ forcing all citizens to buy health insurance. The lawsuit was a victory for the 26 states that filed it, and attorneys for those states are now considering the option of putting the bill on the fast track to the U.S. Supreme Court, using a legal provision whereby the plaintiffs can by-pass the appeals process.
Should such a tactic be chosen, the Supreme Court could conceivably issue a ruling in as early as 30 days.
With the current make up of the high court, observers expect ObamaCare to be struck down with a 5-4 decision.
However, the mammoth 2.7 trillion dollar legislation is under increasing attack on the legislative front as well. Congressional Democrats are now considering their options, attempting to come up with a plan to reform the current healthcare system without the individual mandate. And Senate Republicans plan to use a legislative rule allowing the minority Party to bypass roadblocks set up by the majority in order to get the bill to the floor for a vote.
The procedure is quite simple. Normally under a split Congress where the House and Senate are controlled by different Parties, when a bill is passed in the House it goes to the Senate and is automatically assigned to a committee, where it can either be debated or simply allowed to die a lingering death by inaction.
However, according to legislative rules, once the bill reaches the Senate it can be ‘held at the desk’ using Senate Rule 14. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) would then be forced to place the bill on the calendar. At that point Reid can use various tactics to delay consideration.
But Republicans can then invoke Senate Rule 22, which states that any Senator can force debate on a bill that is being held at the desk. This would force Democrats to go on the record either to support or oppose a filibuster on the repeal, thus placing the 22 Democrats who are up for reelection in 2012 in great peril with the voters if they dare prevent debate or vote against the repeal.
An easier tactic, however, is for Republicans to attach the repeal as an amendment to another bill that is sure to be passed by a Democratic majority.
As a side-note to the healthcare controversy, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is now on the defensive in light of the fact that the ObamaCare bill, which has been declared unconstitutional by 2 federal judges, was modeled after the ‘RomneyCare’ legislation for which he is known in Massachusetts.
The Governor stated that he ‘will not apologize’ for the legislation, in spite of its vast unpopularity around the country with Republicans who will be voting on candidates in various GOP Presidential primaries next year.
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