Obamacare repeal could happen soon (but probably not by inauguration day)

Could the GOP repeal Obamacare on inauguration day? That’s one possibility being discussed though the path to get there seems fairly narrow. From the Hill:

House and Senate budget leaders are teeing up a vote to repeal most of ObamaCare by Jan. 20, 2017, according to multiple sources.

The leaders of the House and Senate Budget committees are planning the vote for the first week of January, to deal an immediate blow to ObamaCare after President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, according to a Senate GOP aide.

The hitch in this plan was pointed out by Mitch McConnell who told the Hill, “You have to pass a budget before you pass a reconciliation bill.” That’s what Republicans intend to do. From the LA Times:

Since Congress did not pass a 2017 budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, they hope to retroactively approve one in the weeks ahead so they can include the first part of the special instructions needed to repeal the program. But [House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy] doubted that would be completed by the time Trump takes office.

“I don’t think you can do it before [Jan.] 20th,” he said. “There’s only so many legislative days.”

Still the reconciliation repeal could be ready fairly early in Trump’s tenure. What will take longer is the replacement effort. Democrats and some Republicans are suggesting no repeal should happen until a replacement bill is ready, but McCarthy believes clearing the slate by repealing Obamacare right away will help bring Democrats to the table on the replacement effort:

“Once it’s repealed you will have hopefully fewer people playing politics and everybody coming to the table to find the best policy,” McCarthy told reporters. “I just want to make sure we get it right.”

McCarthy is almost certainly right. So long as Obamacare is still in place, Democrats will be stalling and trash talking any GOP alternative even as their allies pursue a “total war” campaign to convince the public it should never be repealed. However, if Republicans act quickly on repeal before the progressive echo chamber is fully operational, Democrats will have no choice but to start thinking about what comes next.