As the 115th Congress convenes on Tuesday, Republicans in the House will swiftly move to set rules in place that will allow the GOP to push ahead with plans to repeal big chunks of the Obama health law, though the first big floor vote on such a bill is not expected until the second week of January.
Stuffed deep in a plan to revise the rules for the House in the new Congress is a section that makes it much more difficult for bills to be approved which would increase the federal deficit.
“It shall not be in order to consider any bill or joint resolution reported by a committee, or amendment thereto or conference report thereon, that would cause a net increase in direct spending in excess of $5,000,000,000,” the proposal states.
But that new rule would be a problem for the GOP when it comes to Obamacare, because repealing the Obama health law – and the taxes associated with it – would likely result in higher deficits, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
So, the plan specifically sets out an exception – just for the repeal of Obamacare.
“This subsection shall not apply,” the resolution states, to any effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act – the official name of the Obama health law, or part of the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010, which held some parts of those same reforms.
A vote on the rules changes is expected on Tuesday, soon after the House holds a vote to presumably re-elect Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as Speaker of the House.
The arcane legislative change dealing with a “Point of Order Against Increasing Direct Spending,” is part of a broader mix of proposed rule changes from the GOP, which impact everything from possible fines against lawmakers for violations of House floor decorum, to barring former members – who are now lobbyists – from using the House gym.
The rules package is still not final, and may still be discussed in a larger meeting of GOP lawmakers before the new Congress begins on Tuesday at 12 noon.