Soon after the 112th Congress convenes Wednesday, Republicans in the House plan to make good on a campaign promise that helped vault many new members to victory: voting to repeal President Obama’s health care overhaul.
The vote, which Republican leaders pledged would occur before the president’s State of the Union address later this month, is intended both to appeal to the Tea Party-influenced factions of the House Republican base and to emphasize the muscle of the new party in power. But it could also produce an unintended consequence: a chance for Democrats once again to try their case in support of the health care overhaul before the American public.
Democrats, who in many cases looked on the law as a rabid beast best avoided in the fall elections, are reversing course, gearing up for a coordinated all-out effort to preserve and defend it. Under the law, they say, consumers are already receiving tangible benefits that Republicans would snatch away.
House Democrats will get help from allies in the Senate, who can stop any repeal, and at the White House, where officials hope to transform the law from a political liability into an asset, a centerpiece of President Obama’s expected bid for re-election.
Health care is only one item on an aggressive agenda of Republicans eager to distinguish themselves quickly from the House that was run by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Many seem to have latched on to “Undo It” the hit by the country singer Carrie Underwood, as the refrain for their planned attack against legislation that grew out of the 111th Congress, when the Democrats were at the helm in both chambers.