As Democrats gird for battle in advance of next week’s planned House vote to repeal last year’s healthcare reform law, an organization with strong ties to President Obama is soliciting funds to defend the president’s signature achievement.
Leaders of the new GOP House majority have set Wednesday to vote to repeal healthcare reform, which conservatives mockingly refer to as “Obamacare” and deride as a government takeover of healthcare.
Now under the Republican leadership of Chairman David Dreier of California, the House Rules Committee on Friday approved the terms of debate ahead of Wednesday’s vote. Notably, minority Democrats will be prevented from offering any amendments, making the vote a straight vote to kill the entire reform law.
“We know why they’re trying to ram this through before most people are really tuned in: when Americans know what is at stake, they simply don’t want health reform repealed,” says the fundraising email from Organizing for America (OFA). “The Republicans are pushing forward anyway — and fast. But this is not a fight we will shy away from.”
Housed within the Democratic National Committee, OFA was built out of Obama’s 2008 campaign operation as a tool to keep grassroots supporters engaged. OFA’s emails are delivered under the firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
OFA Political Director Yohannes Abraham is promising “a large-scale effort to protect this historic [healthcare] legislation,” which congressional Democrats approved without a single GOP vote.
“Our plan is not just to defeat repeal in the halls of Congress. Together, we’ll shine a spotlight directly on the Republicans who are pursuing it — and we’ll make sure they know there is a political price to pay for siding with insurance companies over the American people,” Abraham says.
Even if, as expected, Republicans approve repeal on Wednesday, it is unlikely it will become law. It would have to also be approved by the Senate, which remains under Democratic control. Moreover, Obama himself maintains his veto authority.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who guided passage of healthcare reform last year during her speakership, notably is continuing her attempt to reframe the debate, referring to the issue not as healthcare reform, but as “patients’ rights,” a phrase she used in her speech right before handing the speaker’s gavel off to Republican John Boehner of Ohio.
Pelosi also this week argued that the early focus on healthcare repeal shows Republicans as out-of-touch, saying that the new GOP majority is avoiding the issue of job-creation which public opinion polls cite is the top priorities of most Americans.
Independent Washington political analyst Charlie Cook sees healthcare repeal as essentially a necessary sop to the conservative base which helped Republicans recapture their House majority in the 2010 midterms.
“Whether or not one believes that the health care law was good policy, Republicans have an obligation to the voters who restored their House majority and boosted their numbers in the Senate to at least make a good-faith effort to repeal the law,” Cook says. “If they don’t vote for repeal in the House and make an attempt in the Senate, GOP lawmakers will be seen as betraying that support.”
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.