Health Care: What's Next for GOP, Health Care Bill Opponents

With House Democrats’ arms in slings and careers in tatters, the House voted to pass Obamacare last night by a vote of 219-212.  The only bipartisanship involved was the vote against the bill, with 34 Democrats siding with Republicans.

The Senate-passed health care bill now moves directly to the White House where President Obama will sign it into law . This bill still includes the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, Gator Aid, $500 billion in tax hikes and nearly that amount in cuts to Medicare — all of the elements originally passed by the Senate.

As soon as Obama’s signature is on the dotted line, attorneys general are slated to file lawsuits to challenge the constitutionality of the bill.  Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, a former member of the House and current Republican candidate for governor, is one immediately filing suit.

“As soon as this bill is signed into law, with the form that it’s in now, the State of Florida will file a lawsuit against the federal government, against a number of agencies and the President, to have the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately declare this bill unconstitutional,” McCollum told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Sunday afternoon.  “There are two grounds for it.”  

“One of those is the individual mandate that you’ve talked so much about and heard about where you are taxed or penalized just for living, basically,” McCollum continued.  “You are required to buy a health insurance plan, and if you don’t buy it, you’re going to have this penalty.  There’s no connection to commerce, there’s no basis under the Constitution that any of our experts can see for the Congress to be able to impose that on an individual.”

“And then there’s a question of the manipulation of our states and our resources by the federal government in unprecedented ways — ways that violate the sovereignty in our Constitution — the sovereignty amendment, the 10th Amendment,” McCollum said.  “So we will sue, I think we will win this suit ultimately because I think it’s very wrong, it’s unconstitutional and we have a lot of states’ attorney generals who agree with me on this.”

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, another Republican candidate for governor, is taking up the action jointly with McCollum.  

“It’s essentially a direct tax on the people for which there is no authority,” McMaster said. “It’s the national government requiring a citizen to buy something that he may or may not want to buy. There’s no authority in the Constitution that allows the Congress to do that.”

McMaster also stated Friday that Attorneys General Wayne Stenehjem of North Dakota and Lawrence Wasden of Idaho have both expressed interest in joining a Commerce Clause challenge to the individual insurance mandates.

And they won’t be alone.  The measure buries state budgets in a sea of unfunded mandates.

The Idaho legislature passed a measure that Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed into law last week requiring Attorney General Wasden to challenge the mandates if they become law.  (Over thirty-five other states are considering or in some stage of passing legislation to block the implementation of Obamacare.  A substantial Louisiana effort underway described at the link.)

They may also be able challenge the constitutionality of elements such as the infamous “Cornhusker Kickback” and other payoffs that are still in the bill passed by the House last night.  McMaster, McCollum and 13 other attorneys general vowed late last year to sue over the offending payoffs to these senators.  

Unless the House reconciliation bill passes the Senate unchanged, the reconciliation bill will be sent back to the House for yet another vote.  Then the House would be required to pass that bill unchanged, or it goes back to the Senate. It could go on and on.

Regardless, the only thing that becomes law right away is the Senate bill when the President signs it and payoffs such as the Cornhusker Kickback are still in it.

Senate Republicans continue to point out serious problems with the reconciliation bill of “fixes” passed by the House last night.  One possible fatal flaw would cause the entire reconciliation bill to be thrown out.  Republicans made this public before the House vote, yet Democrat Senators refused to hold a meeting with the Senate parliamentarian on the issue until after the House voted to pass the flawed measure.

The Congressional Budget Act states, “LIMITATION ON CHANGES TO THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, it shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any reconciliation bill or reconciliation resolution reported pursuant to a concurrent resolution on the budget agreed to under section 301 or 304, or a joint resolution pursuant to section 258C of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, or any amendment thereto or conference report thereon, that contains recommendations with respect to the old-age, survivors, and disability insurance program established under title II of the Social Security Act.”

“Republicans have been trying to set up a meeting with Senate Democrats since [Saturday] to discuss this fatal point of order but have been met with nothing but silence,” Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, said yesterday.  “We suspect Democrats are slow walking us so as to have the House vote first. Since Senate Democrats refuse to meet with us and the Parliamentarian, we’ve informed our colleagues in the House that we believe the bill they’re now considering violates the clear language of Section 310g of the Congressional Budget Act, and the entire reconciliation bill is subject to a point of order and rejection in the Senate should it pass the House.”