Tuesday (3 January) marked the first day of the 115th Congress and Republican senators are wasting no time in enacting their vision of repealing the Affordable Care Act. A budget resolution introduced that day would mean that the legislation to repeal "Obamacare" could be fast-tracked with only a simply majority in both houses needed.
Introduced by Senator Mike Enzi, a Republican from Wyoming, the resolution would allow Republicans to use their majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives to effectively repeal Obamacare. Where a full repeal would take 60 votes in the Senate, taking it through the budget reconciliation process would only require 50. Republicans have a majority of 52.
The resolution is the first step in repealing the Affordable Care Act, a move that the incoming government appears set to make without having a replacement act in place, which many have suggested should be there.
"Americans face skyrocketing premiums and soaring deductibles," said Enzi. "Insurers are withdrawing from markets across the country, leaving many families with fewer choices and less access to care than they had before – the opposite of what the law promised.
"Today, we take the first steps to repair the nation's broken health care system, removing Washington from the equation and putting control back where it belongs: with patients, their families, and their doctors."
The tactics have been attacked by Democrats, with minority leader Nancy Pelosi calling attempts to repeal without a replacement "an act of cowardice".
"Where are they going to get the votes to replace?" she asked reporters on Monday (2 January). "If, in fact, ideologically they're opposed to a public role and any participation in the good health of the American people, where are they going to get the votes, unless they were to act in a bipartisan way?"
If the resolution passes, it does not allow for an easy repeal of Obamacare, explained Vox, but instead reverses many of the coverage gains it has brought in.
According to a press release from Enzi's office, the resolution includes instructions "so that repeal legislation can move through a fast-track process" in the hope of "sending legislation to the new president's desk as soon as possible".
As Vox pointed out, with Republican majorities in the both houses there is no way for Democrats to stop the repeal. The only thing likely to delay Obamacare's demise is disunity within Republican ranks, as some demand a replacement before the repeal goes forward.