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House, Senate prepare new attacks on federal health care law

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Sen .John Thune (R-S.D.)
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Sen .John Thune (R-S.D.)Getty Images

It was just two months ago that House Republicans voted for the 37th time to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act. Soon after, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters that Americans should expect more of the same from his party for the indefinite future. "We're going to keep the focus on Obamacare," he said.

He really wasn't kidding. Here's what we saw from the House GOP yesterday...

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced Wednesday that the House will vote in July to delay Obamacare's individual mandate for one year, a move that comes in response to the Obama administration's decision to delay the employer mandate for a year.

...and here's what we saw from the Senate GOP yesterday.

Senate Republicans are launching another effort to defund parts of President Barack Obama's health care law, including what their campaign chairman referred to Wednesday as "the death panel."

All 46 Republican senators signed on to a letter spearheaded by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., that calls for a permanent delay of the health care law.

At a news conference unveiling the letter, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said he and his far-right colleagues would push measures intended to block enforcement -- apparently forever -- of the employer and individual mandates. Moran added that he would "offer an amendment that will defund IPAB, the so-called death panel."

Yes, more than three years after the Affordable Care Act became law, we still have confused Republican senators making "death panel" references in public.

Also yesterday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said Congress should shut down the government rather than allow spending in the federal budget for funding the health care system. Because that's just the kind of guy he is.

I suppose many political observers have come to expect this kind of nonsense, but it's worth pausing to appreciate the degree to which these antics are stark raving mad.

Will any of these anti-health care measures pass? No. Are Republican lawmakers prepared to offer alternate policy solutions to the measures they disapprove of? No. Do GOP lawmakers see the irony of them whining incessantly about a delay of a provision they themselves oppose? No.

Does any of this matter? Apparently not.

Shortly after the 2012 elections, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) suggested his party's crusade to destroy the Affordable Care Act had run its course, and it was time to move on. Noting the election results, Boehner declared, "Obamacare is the law of the land."

But hysterical congressional Republicans had other ideas. They have a choice between governing and these ridiculous antics, and they clearly prefer the latter.

Keep in mind, there is no precedent in American history for this. Countless measures have passed over the objections of one party or the other, but we've never seen a political dynamic in which one radicalized, unhinged party casts literally dozens of pointless repeal votes while actively, shamelessly trying to sabotage existing federal law.