Even though Republicans fell short on a strict party-line Obamacare repeal vote last evening, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell is vowing to press on with the fight:
McConnell isn't one for dramatic stylings or rhetorical flourishes, but his low key personality and laconic manner have made him an exceptionally effective leader and a worthy tactician. He promised to force an early vote on repeal and he's delivered on that promise -- bringing a broad array of Republican Senators, from Jim DeMint to Olympia Snowe, along with him.
I spoke with a top Republican Senate aide after last night's vote, and he confirmed an upper chamber GOP strategy to keep Obamacare on or near the front burner, through various means, over the next two years. "This isn't over," I was told. "There will be many opportunities to address Obamacare as we move forward." The aide mentioned Republicans' successful effort to jettison the lame duck session omnibus spending bill -- which included a substantial sum for Obamacare funding -- as the newly empowered GOP minority's first major blow against the law.
As 2011 progresses, he said to expect an all-of-the-above approach to blocking funding for Obamacare implementation, as well as a number of (virtually limitless) healthcare-related budget amendments designed to improve the law while forcing vulnerable Democrats into difficult votes. "I'd love to watch Ben Nelson, Jim Webb, and Claire McCaskill vote over and over again to protect the worst elements of the bill," he said, suggesting that Republican leaders will devise a plan to hold Democrats' feet to the fire all the way through to 2012. The aide's overriding message echoed McConnell's straightforward and determined pledge: "This won't go away, and we won't go away."