The 51st Attempt Will Not Be The Charm Either
In a 51st attempt, the House of Representatives has passed a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood. Lawmakers approved the bill by a 240-181 vote. The Senate passed the bill Dec. 3 using reconciliation rules to avoid a filibuster. President Obama is widely expected to veto the bill.
The 51st Attempt
You read correctly. This will be the 51st attempt by the House GOP to repeal parts or all of the Affordable Care Act. This will be the 51st attempt to end in failure. They don’t have the necessary votes. We have previously highlighted the reason why repeal is unlikely even with a Republican House and Senate:
Because of the Senate, it does not matter who the next President is for there is simply no path to repealing ObamaCare during the next President’s term.
In 2016, only 10 Democrats are up for reelection in the Senate with 8 in “safe seats”. Conversely, there are 24 Republicans up for reelection with 10 safe. Even if Republicans retain control of the Senate with a bare majority of 51 or 52, to pass a repeal in regular order, there need to be at least 60 Republicans (assuming all Democrats hold firm for ObamaCare as they have been).
Socialized medicine has been a progressive dream for since at least Teddy Roosevelt, and they will not let go of a goal that took them 100 years to realize, no matter the political cost. To repeal by reconciliation, Republicans will need 51 Senators but some in Blue States will defect so the actual number is more like 56 . I don’t think it’s gonna happen. In 2018, things only get worse because Presidents invariably face a Midterm backlash, and the possibility of recession is not minimal. Taking people’s subsidies away is not politically palatable.
Planned Parenthood Is Kind of The Same Thing
This is another long shot. Planned Parenthood is a recipient of federal funding under Title X of the Public Health Service Act and via Medicaid reimbursements, among other sources. Last reporting year, Planned Parenthood received $528 million—41 percent of its total revenue—a significant portion of which comes from these federal programs. No federal dollars that Planned Parenthood receives are allocated to abortions.
Planned Parenthood cannot be defunded via the appropriations process, as its money comes from a mandatory funding stream. Defunding Planned Parenthood involves attaching a legislative rider to an annual spending bill that withholds all federal dollars from Planned Parenthood which means interfering with providing Medicaid to a health care provider. Politically unpalatable for many legislators.
Medicaid is a state administered program and the federal government hasn’t shown any inclination to stop funding to Planned Parenthood. States have already tried to defund Planned Parenthood, and federal courts have struck down the attempts. States which sought to restrict Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood ran afoul of a provision in federal law that allows recipients of Medicaid to choose their own provider.
Finally, even if a veto is overridden, it’s possible that defunding Planned Parenthood is an unconstitutional bill of attainder. The Daily Signal does a good job of highlighting the meaning:
Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution states that “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.” In Selective Service v. Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, the Supreme Court defined a bill of attainder as a “law that legislatively determines guilt and inflicts punishment upon an identifiable individual without provision of the protections of a judicial trial.” In order to be ruled a bill of attainder, a legislative act must 1) specify the affected persons, 2) include punishment, and 3) lack a judicial trial.
In ACORN v. United States, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a 2009 law defunding ACORN by name did not constitute a bill of attainder because it did not meet the historical, functional, or motivational tests for punishment. Historically, the statute did not involve traditional forms of punishment, such as imprisonment, banishment, death, or other similarly severe consequences. Functionally, the statute furthered non-punitive purposes. Motivationally, there was no legislative record overwhelmingly reflecting a clear intent to punish, as opposed to merely ensuring that tax dollars no longer flowed to the organization.
Is severely hampering the ability to provide reproductive health care to millions because of largely religious based objection to one service (abortion) a form of punishment? I would think so, but it’d be up for the courts to decide.