NEW HAVEN -- Incoming House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) predicted on Sunday that House Republicans would not only have enough votes to repeal the president's health care reform law, but also could have the numbers to override a presidential veto of that repeal, and would start the process before the upcoming State of the Union address.
"As part of our pledge we said that we would bring up a vote to repeal health care early," Upton said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. "That will happen before the president's State of the Union address. We have 242 Republicans. There will be a significant number of Democrats, I think, that will join us. You will remember when that vote passed in the House, last march; it only passed by seven votes.
"Just wait. If you switched four votes from last march, that bill would have gone down. So we'll take the Democrats that voted no, we will take other Democrats who probably agree with Speaker Pelosi's statement. Remember when she said we want to pass this thing because then we'll learn what's in it? Well now the American public does know what is in it. Unpopularity numbers are as high as 60 percent across the country. I don't think we're going to be that far off from having the votes to actually override a veto."
This is, to put it mildly, an optimistic consideration of the congressional landscape.
Overriding a presidential veto would require the support of two-thirds of the House. Some Democrats were, and are, skittish about health care. But many of those lawmakers were bounced from office during the 2010 elections and it's hard to see more than a handful of the remaining members supporting legislation to overturn the president's signature domestic achievement. And even if they did, it would still have to get 67 votes in the Senate -- a chamber that Democrats still control.
Indeed, the far more likely vehicle for chopping down the law seems to be the piecemeal approach that Upton hinted at later on during his segment.
"After that, we're going to go after this bill piece by piece," he said. "We'll look at the 1099 issue -- Dave Camps' committee, Ways and Means -- to look at the $600 1099 that has to be processed for every business transaction. We'll look at the individual mandate requirement and all of those as individual pieces. We are going to take up early the Pitts-Stupak language 'no funds shall be spent on abortion' as a separate bill early on. And we will look at the individual pieces to see if we can't have the thing crumble."
But, even here there are important footnotes. The Senate Finance Committee has already attempted to revamp the 1099 provision that has drawn so much ire. And Republicans and Democrats couldn't agree on legislative language, choosing instead to punt the issue to the next (now incoming) congress.