November 5th, 2010 – Republicans picked up at least 60 House seats and at least six Senate seats in the election, removing Democrat Nancy Pelosi from her powerful position as speaker of the House and putting Republicans in charge of House leadership and committees.
According to exit polls, health care reform followed as the second-most important issue for voters during this election cycle.
The day after Tuesday’s elections, House Republican leader John Boehner and House GOP Whip Eric Cantor spoke about the possibility of repealing or dismantling comprehensive health-care reform. “The health-care bill that was enacted by the current Congress will kill jobs in America, ruin the best health-care system in the world, and bankrupt our country,” said Rep. John Boehner.
While the desire is there, Republican control of the House is not enough to repeal the law by itself. They still have to contend with a Democratic controlled Senate and President Obama. Republicans don’t have the two-thirds majority required in both Houses to override a presidential veto. They would need 67 votes in the Senate to overcome a veto from President Obama.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans have to be realistic about what control over the House will mean for legislation. “It would be foolish to expect that Republicans will be able to completely reverse the damage Democrats have done as long as a Democrat holds the veto pen,” McConnell said. “We have to be realistic about what we can and cannot achieve, while at the same recognizing that realism should never be confused with capitulation.”
Lawmakers will likely have the most success, pursuing incremental changes to the law to keep the debate top of mind for voters leading up to the 2012 elections. Republicans are proposing that Congress enact popular cost saving measures that are missing from the current health-care law, including medical liability reforms, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, and an expansion of health savings accounts.
President Obama invited the Republican and Democratic House leaders to meet in the White House on November 18 to discuss the changed political landscape and how they can work together in the future.