The GOP’s Mock Struggle to Repeal Biden’s Flagship Achievement

When Republicans took a majority in the House in 2011, it took them barely a month to hold the first of what would be several dozen token votes repealing the Affordable Care Act. Six years later, Republicans pushed hard to repeal the Obama administration’s landmark health care law immediately after taking power in Washington.

If the past were prologue, taking the House in January, one would have expected Republicans to turn their sights quickly to President Joe Biden’s flagship legislative achievement: the sprawling Inflation Reduction Act, which was adopted last year.

Instead, for most Republicans, the past seems to be something else: a cautionary tale.

Three months into the new House GOP majority, there has been little movement toward overturning that bill, which contains some of the most important climate change and health care measures to pass. Congress in recent memory.

So far, the only noise about the repeal has come from about 20 members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, who introduced legislation to repeal it altogether in March. There is no indication that their bill will be tabled soon, but these lawmakers have demanded the cancellation of the IRA as a condition of their vote to increase the US government’s borrowing limit.

Still, proponents of the push are confident it would be top of the agenda if Republicans win Congress and the presidency in the 2024 election.

“I totally believe, like, that this bill would be overturned,” said Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), co-sponsor of the repeal bill, adding that the IRA’s passage through the reconciliation process The party line’s budget would allow the GOP to do the same by repealing it.

That confidence is poised to put House Tories on a collision course with many of their colleagues, who have a far different view of how they would approach the IRA, namely selectively.

Asked about repealing the bill, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) was quick to point to the GOP’s failure to abandon Obamacare in 2017. “We know from experience that’s probably not the way to go.” , did he declare.

“Fine if you want to try something like this once, but…you want to do more than make a point,” Cramer said. “Let’s explore the most offensive areas and make adjustments between here and there.”

The House Republican leadership has previously signaled a piecemeal approach. The GOP’s omnibus energy package, which passed Thursday, targets several climate-focused aspects of the IRA, but not the most important ones, such as the subsidy program for electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), a member of the Appropriations Committee, suggested that House Republicans could leverage the power of the wallet and “see whether or not we can maybe recover a some of that money that hasn’t been spent yet.”

Through their Obamacare debacles, Republicans may have learned that it’s not just hard to overturn sweeping legislation altogether; it is also difficult to overturn a law years after it has been passed and tons of money has been spent. The IRA included some $700 billion in direct federal investments.

Beyond that, companies are already planning around clean energy and ARI manufacturing incentives, for example, and millions of Americans who use insulin are now buying it at maximum copays. $35 per month, a cap instituted by the IRA.

The insulin cap, along with provisions allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, helped make the IRA far more popular than Obamacare was in its early days. Even Republican lawmakers welcome these provisions, along with several other tax reforms.

Undoing it could be a politically painful experience for Republicans. And if some GOP lawmakers insist on pushing for a repeal, many Democrats would be more than happy with the challenge.

“We should take their word for it that they want to repeal the biggest climate action America has ever taken,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). “I think we should take their word for it that they want to raise the price of prescription drugs, including insulin. And I think Democrats should be happy to argue this next election.

Some Democrats doubt Republicans could touch the law, even if they had the chance. “I don’t think they’ll be successful,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “That would be a terrible misstep for them.”

With these factors in play, it’s perhaps unsurprising that apathy seems to be the dominant GOP attitude when it comes to repealing Biden’s legislative achievement.

That’s not to say Republicans like the bill. But compared to Obamacare, which dominated the GOP messaging for years, what might be most striking about Republicans’ thinking about the IRA is how relatively little they seem to think about it.

When The Daily Beast approached eight GOP lawmakers to ask what they thought of the IRA repeal, several seemed surprised to have been asked. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) called it an “interesting question” but said he would “seriously consider” repealing the law.

One of Congress’ fiercest critics of Biden, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), said he ‘should backtrack’ on the contents of the IRA before making his point. of sight.

House GOP leadership Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) said “I guess” Republicans would move to repeal, but said it was still early days.

“I haven’t heard of it, to be honest,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said when asked about his colleagues’ bill to repeal the IRA. “I’m sure there are parts of many bills that people want to reconsider.”

These responses reflect what has been a persistent challenge for Republicans: creating a consistent negative brand image for the IRA. They had no such problems with Obamacare, which they quickly dismissed as a hostile government takeover of the health care system.

But the IRA is remarkably broad: it contains many provisions on energy and health care, offering a mix of direct spending and tax reforms to advance Democrats’ goals of fighting climate change, cutting prescription drug costs and forcing the wealthy to pay more taxes. .

Ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans largely preferred to campaign on issues of cost of living, crime, and immigration; insofar as they were talking about the IRA, it was in reference to funding the bill for the Internal Revenue Service, which they described as a middle-class taxpayer audit force.

Some Republicans will even admit that there are actually parts of the law they like. Donalds noted the insulin price cap, for example, but argued that Republicans could address that on their own. “You don’t need the Inflation Reduction Act to do that,” he said.

Cramer, meanwhile, pointed to the IRA’s provisions to encourage domestic manufacturing and its tax credits for companies’ use of carbon capture technology, which can reduce industrial gas emissions to greenhouse effect.

“If you decide to repeal the whole thing, you might have people who like parts of it,” he said. “There are some things that we can work on, that we could repeal in a targeted way, and then some things that you can leave out and I think that would advance some of our priorities.”

The question for Republicans is how serious their right flank is about canceling the IRA — or how much of their rhetoric is posturing that will be forgotten if the GOP returns to power in Congress and the House. White in 2025 or beyond.

Some Democrats, at least, aren’t holding their breath.

“People are often in disbelief, because [Republicans] offer to do unpopular things and think, “Well, they can’t really say that,” Schatz said. “But then they end up doing unpopular things. I take them at their word.

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