Sen. Alexander: GOP Will Press to Repeal Health Care

ABC News' Rick Klein reports: If Democrats manage to sign a health care reform bill into law, Republicans stand ready to immediately press to repeal the new law -- and will make that push a major campaign issue in 2010, the Senate’s third-ranking Republican said today.

On ABC’s “Top Line,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and a leading voice on health care reform efforts, said Republican lawmakers are candidates are likely to coalesce behind efforts to strike a new Democratic-passed law from the books.

“I certainly think so,” Alexander said. “So we’re going to jam it through in a partisan way, which will take two or three messy months here -- I’m pretty sure that the rest of the year is going to be defined by a movement to repeal it. An election to repeal it -- with the health care bill, which is unpopular, defining the race for every single Democratic candidate for Congress.”

Alexander said he’d rather not repeal a health care law using the same procedural mechanism Republicans are now blasting Democrats for considering -- specifically, the use of budget “reconciliation” to skirt a Republican filibuster and pass legislation in the Senate with just a simple majority.

“I don’t like using the reconciliation for this. I’ve tried to be consistent in my views,” he said.

But asked whether he was prepared to state that Republicans would rule out the use of reconciliation to repeal a health care bill, he said:

“No, I’m not. I’m not going to prepare to make any kind of statement. I’m prepared to say it shouldn’t be done now, and if it shouldn’t be done now, it shouldn’t be done in the future,” Alexander said.

He added. “It’s not my responsibility to try to predict the future. It is my responsibility to say what should happen today. And what should happen today is it shouldn’t be jammed through by any procedure that makes it purely partisan, because the goal with a big piece of social legislation is to have a bipartisan result so that the country will accept it. And I hope that that is what’s going to happen.”

The question of whether Republicans should press to repeal health care was the subject of our “Top Line” question of the day today.

If Democrats do choose to use reconciliation, Alexander said, they should prepare to see the health care issue continue to dominate the political discussion for the rest of the year:

“You’re going to have an outraged country, you’re going to have a messy process, and then you’re going to finish the year with a big effort to repeal it, which defines every Democrat’s race. That is what will dominant the rest of the legislative year if they try to jam this through,” Alexander said.

We also previewed tomorrow’s Texas primary with Wayne Slater, senior political writer for The Dallas Morning News .

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