After McConnell downplayed the prospect of a GOP Senate fully repealing Obamacare on Tuesday, his office told the conservative Washington Examiner on Thursday that he would be willing to use a procedural option known as reconciliation to slice off parts of Obamacare with a simple majority of senators.
"Leader McConnell is and has always been committed to the full repeal of Obamacare, and he'll continue to lead efforts to repeal and replace it with patient-centered reforms that enable greater choice at lower costs. He knows it won't be easy, but he also believes that if Republicans are fortunate enough to take back the majority we'll owe it to the American people to try through votes on full repeal, the bill’s most onerous provisions, and reconciliation,” McConnell spokesman Brian McGuire told the paper.
There's a catch: reconciliation is only usable for changes to law which affect the budget.
"Reconciliation can only be used for tax/spending items. So yes, FULL repeal (to include items not subject to a reconciliation bill) would require 60. That has always been the case and always been on the table," Don Stewart, McConnell's deputy chief of staff, told TPM in an email.
The process is tricky, but it's doable. The Senate would first have to pass a budget resolution, which also requires 51 votes, and include reconciliation instructions.
It would still get vetoed by the President, but clearly the Republicans believe after Democrats get destroyed Tuesday that they'll completely surrender and cave in on getting veto-proof margins on these votes, forcing a repeal. If that happens, nobody will be able to save the Dems in 2016 from the base not showing up.
Maybe Mitch knows that.