WASHINGTON -- Highlighting what may be a sign of coming disagreements over strategy between House and Senate Republican leaders, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) insisted that he remains "hopeful" that Congress will be able to repeal health care reform -- regardless of whether President Obama is re-elected in 2012 and in contrast to comments by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
In a recent speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation, McConnell said that although Republicans will hold a vote on repealing health care reform, "the only way to do all these things it is to put someone in the White House who won't veto any of these things." Speaking to the Federalist Society's annual conference on Thursday, McConnell added that they will be counting on the courts to declare the law unconstitutional.
"Look, the House Republicans will not rest until we repeal Obamacare lock, stock and barrel," said Pence when asked by The Huffington Post about McConnell's remarks. The congressman was a featured speaker at the conservative group's conference on Friday.
"I wouldn't deign to question the evaluation of any peer, but oftentimes people leave the American people out of the equation," he continued. "House Republicans are going to work tirelessly to repeal Obamacare and start over with health care reform that focuses on lowering the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government. Assuming we pass that legislation, we'll take that case not only to the Senate and to the White House, but we'll take it to the American people. I think the American people don't want a government takeover of health care. They want Congress to scrap Obamacare and start over, and I continue to be hopeful that as we step forward and aggressively move toward repealing Obamacare that you'll see public sentiment build in such a way that what may not seem possible today in Washington, D.C., could become possible even before the next election."
In an interview with Fox News this week, Pence also took what the blog GOP 12 called a "swipe" at McConnell. Fox News host Bret Baier asked whether the Republican leadership "gets it." When Pence replied that House Republicans sure do, Baier followed up, "Are you distinguishing between Senate Republicans?"
"I think House Republicans get it," repeated Pence. "I think that the opportunity for Republicans in the House of Representatives to provide that check on the big government liberalism of this administration is very real."
"And you'd say that to Mitch McConnell, as well?" asked Baier. Smiling, Pence again replied, "I think House Republicans get it."