New Congress, new ACA repeal efforts

Jan. 3, 2017
It’s the first day of the 115th Congress, and several members are hitting the ground running on their promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Vice President-elect Mike Pence is scheduled to visit Capitol Hill this week to discuss repeal and replacement options with House Republicans. Meanwhile, President Obama will meet with Democratic members to discuss efforts to avoid repeal of the ACA.

Under congressional budget rules, Congress could remove certain provisions under the ACA through a process called budget reconciliation that requires only a simple majority for passage. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) has introduced a budget resolution that provides reconciliation instructions to the Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee as well as the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees. Each committee is tasked with finding at least $1 billion in deficit reduction from fiscal 2017 through fiscal 2026, and to draft a reconciliation bill by Jan. 27. These bills will include details on repealing the ACA ― including specific pieces of the legislation to repeal as well as timelines for replacement. Once crafted, the committees’ reconciliation bills will be combined for consideration in the House and the Senate.

Under House rules, the House of Representatives will be able to pass repeal with a simple majority vote, but Senate rules, which require 60 votes to end debate, could complicate ACA repeal efforts in that chamber where Republicans currently hold 52 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats. Democrats hold 46 seats, with the other two seats being held by independent senators who caucus with Democrats.