As Republicans prepare to exert more control in Congress and mount a challenge to President Obama, they are building a strategy to attempt to follow through on their promise to dismantle the health care law signed by the president in March - which they deem "Obamacare." Members of the GOP are stepping up their support for lawsuits challenging the Democrats' health care reform package, planning ways to pick apart at unpopular provisions in the bill, and preparing for a series of congressional hearings to put new scrutiny on the legislation.
One of the boldest challenges to the law underway is a lawsuit by 20 states seeking to void the health care overhaul. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a potential 2012 GOP presidential contender, filed a motion on Thursday, asking a federal judge to allow him to file a friend of the court brief in the legal battle. Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri joined Pawlenty in filing the brief.
When asked on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday whether repealing the health care overhaul would be a major part of his platform in a potential presidential run, Pawlenty answered in the affirmatively. He's already taken steps to thwart the bill's implementation in Minnesota.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell this week also declared his intention to file a friend of the court brief in the "Obamacare" challenge and urged his Republican colleagues to join him. The case is expected to ultimately go before the Supreme Court.
McConnell said on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that the Republicans "owe it to the American people" to try to repeal health care reform.
While they fight the package in court, Republicans will also try to dismantle the bill in the halls of Congress. In the Senate, where Democrats will maintain their majority next year, Republicans are hoping to persuade certain moderate Democrats to join them in repealing certain provisions of the bill, Politico reports. Those Democrats include incoming West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Jim Webb of Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana.
Some elements of the legislation appear to be low-hanging fruit, such as a provision that requires businesses to fill out more tax forms. Democrats and Republicans are largely in agreement that the requirement was a mistake, but the parties have differences over how to make up for the cash that would be lost if the provision were repealed. Nevertheless, seven Democratic senators sided with Republicans, who wanted to simply scale back other elements of the bill in response to the lost revenue.
There are also reportedly some Democrats opposed to the bill that sets up the Independent Payment Advisory Board, an entity proposed for the sole purpose of scaling back costly Medicare expenses. The IPAB, set to take action in 2018, has already come under the crosshairs of Republicans.
Moving votes to scale back the law may be easier in the House, where Republicans will have control, but those votes could end up being largely symbolic.
In conjunction with those efforts, Republicans in the House and Senate are planning on holding several congressional hearings to scrutinize health care reform, according to the Associated Press. They are anticipated to request certain officials responsible for health care reform in to testify before Congress, such as Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, or Medicare administrator Don Berwick.
"Oversight will play a crucial role in Republican efforts," McConnell said. "We may not be able to bring about straight repeal in the next two years ... but we can compel administration officials to attempt to defend this indefensible health spending bill."