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Long Wait Over as Court Weighs In on Health Care Reform Law

People start arriving at the Supreme Court in anticipation of the health care decision. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images News

The Morning Line

Here. We. Go.

The Supreme Court Thursday is expected to issue arguably the most anticipated decision since 2000’s Bush v. Gore when it rules on the challenge to President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, with the outcome having far-reaching consequences for the upcoming election, health policy and the limits of congressional authority.

The law’s fate is shrouded in secrecy, meaning official Washington will get the news at the same time as everyone else. That includes the president and his White House staff.

“We turn on televisions and radios and computers and watch SCOTUSblog,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday. “I think anybody who covers the Supreme Court knows that it’s pretty air-tight, and it is perhaps anachronistic, or not, but that’s a fact. And so we all will await the decision and learn of it at the same time that you do,” he added.

Two hours before the decision, the president’s re-election campaign sent supporters a short email from campaign manager Jim Messina. Under the subject line “Today’s decision,” Messina offered a brief message asking for donations. “We don’t know what will happen this morning. But no matter what, today is an important day to have Barack Obama’s back.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Carol Lee reports the president will give one of three speeches depending on the outcome.

One of the speeches addresses a complete overturn of the law, while another is crafted as if the court strikes down the law’s individual mandate but upholds other provisions. The third speech, for if the court upholds the entire law, is more celebratory, according to this person.

No matter the ruling, the White House is expected to continue highlighting provisions of the legislation that are more popular than the overall law, such as the requirements that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions or allow parents to keep their children on their plans until they are 26 years old.

Republicans are also bracing for a variety of results. House Speaker John Boehner told reporters at a briefing Wednesday that his chamber has big plans if the court upholds the law.

“We’ve made it pretty clear and I’ll make it clear one more time: If the court does not strike down the entire law, the House will move to repeal what’s left of it,” Boehner said. “‘Obamacare’ is driving up the cost of health care and making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers.”


Mitt Romney pulled no punches on the stump Wednesday on the eve of what is being touted as the most politically influential Supreme Court decision in a generation. The presumptive Republican nominee took Mr. Obama to task over his handling of the economy and his signature healthcare law. NewsHour production assistant Alex Bruns was there, and filed this report from Northern Virginia:

“It’s very clear that a big decision is coming tomorrow from the Supreme Court,” Romney said. “My guess is they’re not sleeping too well at the White House tonight. That’s the way it ought to be.”

Speaking before a crowd of a little more than 500 people at the EIT electronics manufacturing company in Sterling, Va., beneath a blue banner with the slogan, “Putting Jobs First,” Romney clearly defined the stakes for the pending ruling.

“If the court upholds [the healthcare law], it may say, ‘look, it passes with the Constitution.’ It’s still bad policy, and that’ll mean if I am elected we are going to repeal it and replace it,” he said.

When Romney declared his disdain for the president’s signature healthcare law, the positive reaction from the conservative crowd in Northern Virginia was unmistakable.

The healthcare law remains unpopular with Americans and while the Massachusetts plan implemented by then-Governor Romney is often cited as the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act, Romney the candidate has no qualms with striking a populist tone when it comes to the national law.

“The president is in a tight spot because of Obamacare, and the fact the American people don’t want it and the more they learn about it, the less they like it,” he told the crowd. “He’s in a tight spot because he hasn’t done what he said he’d do. He said he’d turn this economy around. That was his number one priority.”

Romney pivoted to his economic agenda in the speech, similar to the one he delivered a day earlier standing in front of a giant yellow Caterpillar haul truck at Carter Machinery in southwestern Virginia.

Romney’s less than 20 minutes at the podium in Northern Virginia allowed him to work the crowd into a frenzy with his combination of well-timed applause lines and political jabs.

“I thought it was an excellent speech,” said Art Reeves, a retired Navy veteran of 21 years from nearby Alexandria. “I had seen him on television before and I thought he was much better in person, much more charismatic.”

Deborah Finkel of Reston, Va., agreed and voiced her concern regarding the rising costs healthcare insurance.

“The healthcare issue in the U.S. is significant,” she said. “But Obama’s plan has failed to fix the problem. We need to let the market forces work.”

Romney has some history with the Northern Virginia tech sector. During his tenure at Bain Capital the firm invested in a circuit board manufacturing company, DDI Corp., of Anaheim but with a location in Sterling, nearly quadrupling its initial investment in the company during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s. Shortly before the bottom dropped out in the market, Bain took the company public and liquidated its shares in DDI.

Romney’s Wednesday campaign stop at EIT’s Sterling headquarters wasn’t the first time the company has played host to a Republican. NewsHour reporter-producer Cassie Chew featured this firm in a recent profile of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. The governor visited the company’s 60,000 square-foot, manufacturing facility in Danville during a statewide jobs tour. The new site has been operating since November and McDonnell highlighted its expansion as a positive sign of economic development for the Commonwealth.

Watch that piece here or below.


We’ve put together a collection of bonus links to click on as you await the big moment.


Judy Woodruff spoke Thursday with Todd Zwillich of Public Radio International’s “The Takeaway” and WNYC about two weekend deadlines facing members of Congress.

With transportation funding set to run out on Saturday and student loan interest rates to double on Sunday, it appeared Wednesday that both issues would be resolved by the end of the week.

“It’s amazing what Congress can accomplish when things are expiring and when it’s time for a vacation,” Zwillich said.

The deal on the transportation measure jettisoned a provision favored by Republicans to require the Keystone XL oil pipeline move forward.

Zwillich explained that the Senate had the better hand in the negotiations.

“Really, what happened in this case was that without passing a bill of their own, the House Republicans didn’t have a great deal of leverage with the Senate, which, again, passed with 74 votes, Republicans and Democrats together. The Senate had a great deal more leverage in this negotiation,” Zwillich said.

On the student loan agreement, Zwillich noted the disagreement between the two parties was over how to pay for the $6 billion price tag, not whether to keep the rates low.

“Republicans have been offering pay-fors from the president’s own budget. Democrats have been balking, and Republicans complain Democrats are just milking this for some political messaging,” he said.

Watch the discussion here or below.


  • A trio of new NBC News/Marist polls show the president and Romney running close in Michigan, New Hampshire and North Carolina.
  • The Washington Post rejected a demand by the Romney campaign to retract its story that Bain Capital outsourced jobs during Romney’s tenure, reports Michael Shear of the New York Times.
  • The News York Times’ Michael Barbaro reports the Romney campaign presented one of the candidate’s biggest fans with a new truck so he can keep turning up at campaign events. Jim Wilson had logged 40,000 miles across 15 states with his 1998 GMC truck, which was covered with Romney signs and stickers, before it was destroyed in a fire last week. Terence caught sight of the truck during a visit to Cleveland, Ohio, in March.
  • Politico looks at the convention conundrum.
  • The Hollywood Reporter has details on the president’s Friday fundraiser at the Soho House in West Hollywood. More than three dozen Hollywood celebrities and entertainment industry executives have reportedly signed on to raise some coin for Mr. Obama.







  • Boehner said Wednesday that the House will move forward Thursday with a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for withholding documents related to the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation.
  • CNN’s Deirdre Walsh reports House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said Wednesday that pressure from the National Rifle Association could push some Democrats to join with Republicans in voting to hold Holder in contempt.
  • And Fortune’s Katherine Eban conducted a six-month investigation in search of the truth about the Fast and Furious scandal.
  • National Journal reports that members of the Congressional Black Caucus will walkout instead of vote on Holder.
  • Judy explores the work-life balance question in the latest installment of Judy’s Notebook.
  • CQ Roll Call’s David Meyers puts on his sportswriter hat to note that Rep. Ron Paul will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Congressional Baseball Game Thursday night. And Roll Call tees up the coverage by noting Republicans and Democrats face off at the end of a day that will include two of the most contentious issues Congress has battled in years.
  • The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank bids farewell to the Senate’s “Seersucker Thursday,” a tradition started in the ’90s by former Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott.

Cassie M. Chew and Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.


All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama attends meetings at the White House and visits the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., at 2 p.m.
  • Mitt Romney is in Washington and likely will make remarks after the health care decision. He attends a fundraiser in New York at 6 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.

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