Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 21.
Republican policymakers have good reason for celebration. After six years spent trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, including more than 60 symbolic votes to repeal in the House of Representatives, they finally have the seats necessary to pull this law out by root and branch. It's a victory that politicians on the Right have promised their constituents in four consecutive elections.
Unless, in this case, they're the dog that caught the car.
Although "repeal on day one" became a near-catechism during the 2016 primary, unwinding a system as vast as Obamacare can create complications and at least some suffering. This means more than a few traps await the new majority if they're not careful. For folks waiting to see what the new Congress is going to do, here are a few things to watch for on the road to repeal:
An early budget and reconciliation process may signal immediate repeal...
The fastest way for Republicans to repeal this bill, given a substantial Democratic minority in the Senate, will be through budgetary reconciliation. This is a parliamentary procedure that allows the majority to pass legislation without fear of a filibuster, and would let the new Congress fast-track an ACA repeal as early as Day One.
"It's an important procedural first step they have to do if they're going to go through with this," said the Brookings Institute's Molly Reynolds. "They have this template of what a repeal bill through reconciliation would look like that they used about this time last year. So they have a sense, thanks to that effort, of what parts of the law could be repealed through the reconciliation process, because there are limits of what could be achieved."