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Darrell Issa Keeps Health Care Law in His Sights

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Reps. Darrell Issa (left) is hoping to move a resolution of disapproval to sideline an IRS rule related to President Barack Obama's health care law.

House Republicans are opening a new front in their drive to derail the 2010 health care overhaul, using an expedited legislative procedure to upend targeted parts of the law.

Republican leaders are preparing to launch the effort during the post-election session that begins Nov. 13. But whether they will have the House vote on a resolution of disapproval intended to sideline an IRS rule related to the health care law hinges on who wins the presidential election. 

The resolution backed by Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who heads the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and  Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a Tennessee Republican and the measure’s chief sponsor, is meant to nullify the upcoming IRS rule authorizing the distribution of subsidies through tax credits in every state, even the 35 that have not yet established state health care exchanges, as an incentive to get most Americans to buy insurance, a central tenet of the overhaul (PL 111-148;  PL 111-152).

Using resolutions of disapproval to dismantle implementation of the health care law represents a far more targeted approach than House Republicans have taken since they moved into the majority in 2011. The House has held 31 votes on bills to repeal all or part of the health care overhaul.

House leaders plan to bring the resolution to a vote during the lame-duck session if Obama wins re-election but will lay the groundwork for using the budget reconciliation process to strike parts of the law instead if former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney wins, Republican aides said.

The resolution aimed at the IRS rule is the first in a series of Republican initiatives intended to block parts of the heath care law if Obama is given a second term, a senior Senate Republican aide said.

“If Obama wins, you will see more of them. If Romney wins, you will see fewer,” said the Senate Republican aide, who added that even if such resolutions ultimately fail, they could require Democrats to cast votes that could pose re-election problems in 2014. 

Disapproval resolutions, such as this one (H J Res 112), come to the House and Senate floors under expedited procedures and require only a simple majority for passage in each chamber, but they still must be signed by the president to overturn a disputed regulation. 

Republicans used the same tactic this fall to try to kill the Obama administration’s recent move to allow waivers to work requirements specified under the 1996 welfare overhaul law, but the Senate put off action on that effort until after the elections. Even if Congress voted to block either the health care law’s tax or the welfare rule, neither is likely to be overturned while Obama is in office. 

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