WASHINGTON — Eager to show who's now in charge, the House's new Republican majority plans to vote to repeal President Barack Obama's landmark health care overhaul before he even shows up in their chamber to give his State of the Union address.
Dramatic as that early showdown promises to be — the vote will be Jan. 12, Republicans said Monday — it will be just the first in a series of struggles expected to play out in the next few months. Obama returns Tuesday from his holiday vacation, fresh off lame-duck legislative victories late last year, and Republicans will be sworn in Wednesday, primed to challenge him after gaining House control in last fall's elections.
Full repeal of the health care law is still a long shot. The House vote would be just the first, easiest step. But House Republicans vow they will follow up with dozens of attempts to hack away at what they derisively call "Obamacare."
The strategy is not risk-free for the Republicans, who won't have a replacement plan of their own ready by the time of the repeal vote. But they say there's no time to lose.