Repealing federal health care legislation would be a "very high priority" for House Republicans if they regain the majority, said U.S. Rep. John Kline on Monday -- a scenario he considers increasingly likely.

"Most of us much prefer the clean approach of repealing the legislation as it exists and enacting pieces of legislation which would actually help control health care costs," Kline said while meeting informally with reporters over coffee on Monday.

Kline's preferred solutions include continuing the ban on insurance company discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, limiting the ability of patients to sue their doctors, and allowing states and small businesses to band together to offer insurance at lower rates.

He said a probable roadblock to repeal would be President Obama, who is expected to veto any attempt to do away with one of his signature achievements as president. Republicans would then need a supermajority to override. In that case, Kline said, Republicans may attempt to take funding from parts of the bill.

As for whether Republicans will take control of the House this fall, Kline said he thinks their chances are "very good." Republicans have been out of power in the House since 2006.

"We've got issues that are working on the Republican side," Kline said. "We've got kind of a wave out there, so I'm feeling pretty good about it."

As the ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, Kline stands to gain a lot if the balance of power tilts.

The Second District congressman would almost certainly be chosen to head that committee, which would make him the leading House lawmaker on reforming "No Child Left Behind," Bush-era education legislation that has created controversy over its testing requirements. Kline acknowledged Monday that such changes are unlikely in the remainder of this session as members campaign for re-election.

He would also become the highest-ranking congressional member in Minnesota. Under a Republican majority, Reps. Jim Oberstar and Collin Peterson would lose their chairmanships on the Transportation and Agriculture committees they now lead.

But first Kline must prepare for his own race against DFLer Shelley Madore, the former state legislator who whomped DFL-endorsed candidate Dan Powers in the primary. Kline expressed surprise that Madore won, saying he did not see her at any parades.

"If she was campaigning, it was invisible to me," Kline said.

Madore said in an interview that her parade attendance this summer was sparse because she was door-knocking and making phone calls, methods she said allow for more substantive conversations.

"It's unfortunate that he wasn't looking, but I'm sure to the 4,000 voters that I spoke with, they were looking and they noticed I was doing the work," Madore said.

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732