A lengthy debate is expected to begin this week in the state Senate on Beaufort Republican Tom Davis’ long-awaited amendment to a bill that would curb the federal Affordable Care Act in South Carolina.
Davis’ amendment aims to turn a S.C. House-approved health care nullification bill, which says, essentially, “Hey, D.C., no way we’re following your law,” into one that says, “Hey, D.C., no way you’re taking control of our state’s public resources to enact this law.”
Davis’ proposal uses the word “commandeering” to try to avoid possible legal challenges that the House bill amounts to unconstitutional nullification. To bolster his anti-commandeering case, Davis cites a 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision saying the federal government cannot force local law-enforcement agencies to aid with background checks of gun buyers under the federal Brady Bill.
The amendment also sets detailed rules for federal navigators, who aid in enrolling South Carolinians in insurance under the federal health care program, and creates a way for agencies to apply for Affordable Care Act grants through state budget requests.
“Restricting the ability of South Carolina’s universities to compete for federal research funding will hurt our already tenuous economy and decrease our ability to recruit and retain high-tech companies, not to mention negatively impact our ability to compete with research centers across the country,” the University of South Carolina said in a statement. About a third of the school’s grants, including for basic research, are from health-related agencies.
But Davis, who led a special Senate panel that reviewed the anti-Obamacare bill over the summer, said barring colleges from applying for grants was not his intent. He wants just grants directly tied to the Affordable Care Act to go through budget reviews.
“We just want to make sure there are no strings attached,” Davis said, adding he plans to fix the language in his amendment.
The bill won a special order to go straight to the Senate floor for debate and a vote without going through legislative committees, which usually clean up any discrepancies like the grant issue, he said.
“What (the Obamacare opponents) are doing will bring a lawsuit,” he said. “They don’t care if it’s constitutional. They just want to have some red meat for the folks back home.”
“We have spent six months to prepare for questions from both sides of aisle,” he said.
Hutto said he expects many Republican state senators to line up to brag about their support for limiting the federal health care plan. “They all want their day at the podium.”
Davis predicted about three weeks for debate before a vote.
That may be an optimistic estimate.
The ethics reform bill -- a controversial, but less complicated issue – needed a month of on-and-off debate before it passed the Senate last week.
Graham’s challengers tout endorsements
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has a huge lead in June’s GOP primary contest, according to a Winthrop Poll released last week, but his challengers won some endorsements.Bill Connor Paul Vallely Lee Bright Nancy Mace Richard Cash
Association director Dudley Brown gave a nod to Bright among the three candidates his group endorsed, who has polled second behind incumbent Republican Graham – though not within striking distance of the senator. “There’s no denying Sen. Lee Bright has gone a step further and deserves special recognition,” Dudley said.
She said it
“He said he’d have something to say about it. I complained. We’ll see what he does.”