This is the way the Obamacare war ends—not with a bang, but a whimper.
Senate Republicans are essentially passing on what was once supposed to be the Next Big Obamacare Fight—the confirmation of a new Health and Human Services secretary. Fourteen Republicans sided with Democrats on a procedural vote Wednesday, clearing the way for Sylvia Mathews Burwell to win confirmation quickly, easily, and with bipartisan support.
There are practical reasons not to pick a big fight over Burwell: She was already confirmed 96-0 for a different job, and she’s well regarded as a skilled manager.
“I think there’s just a fatigue amongst elected Republicans on Obamacare.”
But her nomination was a pretty obvious hill on which Republicans could stage another battle in their years-long war against Obamacare. They chose not to. And after this, there simply aren’t that many hills left on which to fight.
It’s not just Burwell: Anti-Obamacare bills in the House have gotten tamer lately—some of them look an awful lot like fixing obvious problems with the law, something conservatives once swore they’d never do. There are fewer big-ticket hearings, and even those are often poorly attended. Anyone who’s been around Capitol Hill and health care for the past four years can see it—the anti-Obamacare fire just isn’t burning as hot as it used to.
“I think there’s just a fatigue amongst elected Republicans on Obamacare,” said Dan Holler, communications director for Heritage Action, in an interview conducted last month. “There seems to be this hesitancy to talk about Obamacare much.”