McConnell: GOP Mantra on Health Reform Will Be ‘Repeal and Replace’

Posted March 23, 2010 at 2:09pm

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday foreshadowed the Republicans’ health care message moving forward, making clear his Conference will do more than simply call for the repeal of the $875 billion bill signed into law by President Barack Obama.

“I can tell you with regard with the campaign that will continue with the American people, I think the slogan will be, ‘Repeal and replace. Repeal and replace,'” McConnell told reporters during a news conference. “No one that I know in the Republican Conference in the Senate believes that no action is appropriate. We all think there are things that should be done.”

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) vowed that health care reform would be a central issue in the November elections, contending it would give GOP Senate candidates a major boost and help the party add to its 41 seats. Cornyn referred to a recent Indiana public opinion poll that showed Rep. Brad Ellsworth, the Democratic nominee in the race to succeed Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), trailing two potential Republican candidates by double digits.

“In the end, in this political process in this great democracy we have, the votes — the people — always get the final say-so, and I think this is important to remember as the president intends to take a victory lap on this bill,” Cornyn said.

With Obama having signed the Senate’s health care reform bill into law earlier Tuesday, Senate Republicans are focused on amending the companion reconciliation package, which includes adjustments to the underlying legislation sought by the White House and House Democrats.

Republican amendments to the bill, which under the rules of reconciliation can pass with a simple majority vote, are likely to be defeated. The GOP also plans to raise budget points of order. If Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin upholds just one, the challenged provision could be stripped from the bill and the House would be forced to revote.

McConnell declined to discuss the Republicans’ floor strategy for reconciliation. But Senate Budget ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) indicated that at least one amendment the Republicans plan to offer would address Medicare cuts included in reconciliation.

“The amendment strategy will unfold on as we offer amendments on the floor,” McConnell said.

The reconciliation package hit the Senate floor at about 2:15 p.m. Tuesday.