Supreme Court Decision Impact on
Key Impact: The court ruling essentially leaves unchanged the
political dynamic concerning the law in Congress.
Next Steps: The House is expected to vote July 11 to repeal the law,
but the measure is unlikely to be considered by the Senate.
By Steve Teske
Congressional Democrats June 28 hailed the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court
upholding the constitutionality of the health care reform law, while Republicans
said they will redouble efforts to repeal the law in light of the decision, but
added the presidential election this fall will ultimately decide the law's
The 5-4 ruling by the court essentially leaves in place the political status
quo in Congress surrounding the law until the upcoming presidential and
congressional elections (see related article).
The House GOP leadership said it would again bring legislation to the floor
July 11 to repeal the law. The House already has voted numerous times to repeal
the law or parts of it, but the legislation has not been taken up in the
Democratic-controlled Senate. That political dynamic is not expected to change
until after the elections, if then.
While Republicans vowed to continue to fight the law, they also said the
electorate will have the last say in the matter by electing presumed GOP
presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has pledged to repeal the law.
“We are more determined today than ever to repeal this law,” Rep. Cathy
McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) told reporters at a House GOP news conference on the
court ruling. “The Supreme Court spoke today, but they won't have the final
word--the American people will have the final word.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) outlined the GOP's case against the law,
including that it is hampering job growth and will raise the cost of health
care. He said Republicans are ready to work with a president on “common-sense
steps” to change the health care system, although he offered no specifics and
Republicans are unlikely to offer a vision of their own on health care before
“There's a lot of resolve amongst our colleagues, and amongst the American
people, to stop a law that's hurting our economy, driving up the cost of health
care and making it more difficult for employers to hire new workers,” Boehner
said. “The American people want this bill repealed. What they really want are
common-sense steps that will empower them and their families to choose the
doctor they want, at lower cost.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters the court ruling
“underscores the importance of this election,” saying the electorate will have a
choice in November about competing visions for the nation's health care
“We have entered an age in which the government, Washington, will be
controlling health care, unless something changes,” Cantor said.
With repeal of the law, “Then we can clear the way towards trying to again
focus on accomplishing a health care future that is premised on patient-centered
care, lowering cost and affording better access,” Cantor said.
Congressional Democrats said the court's decision confirms the
constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will allow
millions of Americans to get health care coverage, and maintains important
reforms. They called on Republicans to put aside attempts to repeal the law.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters June 28 the
court's decision “is a victory for America's families” and highlighted the
benefits the law is bringing and will bring to individuals.
“Now we can move forward to the full implementation of the law,” Pelosi said.
“When that happens for the American people, the best is yet to come.” The law
was approved by the House in 2010, when Democrats controlled the chamber.
Pelosi said the decision “was no surprise” to House Democrats since they have
always held that PPACA is constitutional, adding the House Democratic caucus at
a meeting “happily embraced the decision that came down.”
Pelosi criticized House Republican plans to again consider legislation to
repeal the law, saying Republicans should move on now that the law has passed
muster with the three branches of the federal government.
“This is just more of the same,” she said of House GOP attempts to repeal the
law, adding that Democrats will use the repeal vote to further clarify the
benefits the law will provide to Americans.
“This is the end of the challenge in the courts,” House Energy and Commerce
Committee ranking member Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “I hope
it also marks the beginning of cooperation in the Congress to assure that what
is now clearly the constitutional law of the land will have the support it needs
to be implemented promptly and effectively for the American people.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) echoed Pelosi's comments, telling
reporters at a briefing that Republicans should drop efforts to repeal the law
and focus on creating jobs.
“The Supreme Court has spoken--the matter is settled,” Reid said, calling the
scheduled vote on repeal in the House “a show vote.”
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters that validation of the law by
the court may cause many Americans who are ambivalent or opposed to the law to
take a second look at it.
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement that
the ruling makes clear that Congress must repeal the law.
“Today's decision does nothing to diminish the fact that Obamacare's
mandates, tax hikes, and Medicare cuts should be repealed and replaced with
common-sense reforms that lower costs and that the American people actually
want,” McConnell said. “It is my hope that with new leadership in the White
House and Senate, we can enact these step-by-step solutions and prevent further
damage from this terrible law.”
Stakeholders and observers said that while the court ruling is a victory for
President Obama and congressional Democrats, the political squabbling over the
law is unlikely to end anytime soon.
Julius Hobson Jr., a senior policy adviser at Polsinelli Shughart,
Washington, told BNA June 28 that he views the fight over the health reform law
to consist of three steps, the first of which was the Supreme Court decision.
The second important event will be the November elections, while the third
important event will be what happens after the elections regarding the law,
which will depend on who is elected president.
“This is a political fight that will not stop,” he said. “We can't turn to
the last page [on the reform law] until after the elections.”
Joseph Antos, a fellow in health care and retirement policy at the American
Enterprise Institute, told BNA that the court decision removes a talking point
for Republicans that the law is unconstitutional.
“There will be political posturing no doubt,” but with Obama in the White
House and Democrats running the Senate, “there's not much [congressional
Republicans] can do but hold show trials” about the law, Antos said.
Antos said Republicans are concerned that if the major parts of the law are
implemented in 2014, it may be too late to repeal it.
“After 2014, the whole ball game changes,” he said.
Antos said Democrats will be able to argue that the law is good policy and is
constitutional. “They can say 'We were right all along,' ” he added.