The House’s newly installed Republican leaders are gearing up to vote to repeal the health-care law enacted last year. Repeal is expected to clear the House. But observers say the legislation probably will languish in the Senate, which is still under Democrats’ control. If that scenario plays out, Republicans’ backup plan is to try to remove pieces of the huge health-care measure. But that also may hit roadblocks in the Senate and at the White House.

Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters on Jan. 4 that Republicans want to make repealing what he termed the “job-killing” health- care law a top priority. Cantor says a vote will take place during the week of Jan. 10. He also says the new GOP leadership will direct committee chairs who have jurisdiction over health care to draw up a replacement bill that would provide “the kind of health care that people want.”

Some construction groups support repealing the health-care law, though they are skeptical about its chances of enactment. Jeff Shoaf, the Associated General Contractors of America’s senior executive director for government affairs, says, “I think the House has an obligation to bring it up for a vote. There was enough talk about it during the campaign that [Republicans] feel like it needs to happen and it needs to happen quickly.” AGC strongly supports repeal, he adds.

Steve Hall, the American Council of Engineering Companies’ vice president for government affairs, says, “ACEC would welcome a redo” of the health-care law. But the group also would want a replacement bill to have more components that are amenable to small businesses and engineering firms. Hall says that if the repeal push succeeds in the House, it might “open the door” for renewed debate on health care in the Senate.

Repealing the “job-killing” health-care law is a top Republican priority.
— Eric Cantor (R-Va.), New House Majority Leader

There is some support for revisiting the health-care overhaul in the Senate. In an unusual pairing, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) have drafted a proposal that would let more states develop plans to opt out of the new federal program. But whether that could be a launching point for other changes remains to be seen, Hall says.

Stan Kolbe, the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association’s legislative affairs director, says the GOP repeal effort “will serve to do little more than whip up the already-hot partisan rhetoric and battles, then die in the Senate with little chance of success.” SMACCNA supports the law.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) recently warned House Republicans to expect the Senate immediately to block their repeal proposal. Cantor says that if the repeal effort fails, GOP lawmakers will try to dismantle the law in pieces, possibly through amendments to other legislation.

Kolbe says lawmakers might be able to make minor “tweaks” to the law, such as the mandate that businesses file 1099 tax forms if they do $600 or more in business with any vendor.