President Obama‘s decisive reelection appears to have brought about instant change in Washington, as House Speaker John Boehner yesterday told ABC’s Diane Sawyer that repealing Obamacare would no longer be a priority of House Republicans.
Leading up the election, Republican challenger Mitt Romney said at least a dozen times a day that his first order of business when he stepped into the White House after winning the presidency would be to repeal Obamacare.
But Boehner yesterday acknowledged that the world is different now.
“The election changes that,” Boehner said when asked by Sawyer whether repealing the law was “still your mission.”
“It’s pretty clear that the president was re-elected ,” Boehner said. “Obamacare is the law of the land.”
Perhaps realizing that his statement might alarm Republican loyalists, Boehner went on to add some criticism.
“I think there are parts of the healthcare law that will be very difficult to implement and very expensive,” he said. “As we’re trying to find a path toward a balanced budget, everything has to be on the table.”
“There may be parts of it that we believe need to be changed,” he added. “We may do that.”
Under Boehner’s leadership, the House tried on 33 occasions to repeal the healthcare law, at a cost of $50 million, according to one report, but were repeatedly blocked by Senate Democrats—and the president obviously would have vetoed any legislation that reached his desk. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June to uphold the law, it has now passed muster with the nation’s highest court and with voters.
But after the Boehner interview was over, his spokesman tried to do some backtracking. Maybe Boehner—who along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took some criticism yesterday from Democrats for their refusal to take Obama’s phone call after his election night win, with both of them saying they were asleep— took a quick poll among the right wing and realized he had gone too far. The spokesman said the speaker and House Republicans “remain committed to repealing the law, and he said in the interview it would be on the table.”
Eddie Vale, a spokesperson for the pro-health care reform group Protect Your Care, told the Huffington Post that Boehner’s remarks were “welcome news.”
“It’s welcome news that Boehner has finally gotten the message and will stop having the House waste time trying to repeal Obamacare,” Vale told The Huffington Post. “But, if they want to fully accept reality, they also need to stop trying to repeal or defund any of its elements, including in the fiscal cliff negotiations.”
On Friday, Boehner continued with his backtracking, repeating that he does not support the legislation. “Our goal remains #fullrepeal,” he wrote.