House Republicans vote to repeal Obamacare for the 61st time
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation on Friday targeting President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act that, like 60 other attempts before it, stands little chance of becoming law.
The measure uses special budget rules that give it a greater chance of passing the Senate and reaching Obama’s desk than previous efforts, but Obama has said he plans to veto it.
The bill, which also would cut off federal funding for women’s healthcare group Planned Parenthood, was approved by a vote of 240 to 189, largely along party lines.
Under a budget rule known as “reconciliation,” Republicans can pass the bill through the Senate with a simple 51-vote majority, rather than the 60-vote threshold that has stymied other attempts. Even so, the bill may fail in the Senate.
Three Republican senators, including presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, have said they will vote against it because it only repeals some aspects of Obamacare. Republicans cannot afford to lose any more votes in that chamber.
Republicans said it was important to force Obama to veto the bill, which contains two of their top priorities.
“Is he going to finally stand up for American workers and sign this bill or will he continue to support a law that’s destroying jobs?” said Representative Steve Scalise, the No. 3 House Republican.
Democrats called the bill a waste of time as Congress has less than two weeks to raise the debt limit before the United States risks running out of money to pay its bills.
The bill would eliminate aspects of the healthcare law that require individuals to buy health insurance and larger employers to offer coverage or face tax penalties. It also would eliminate taxes on medical devices and generous healthcare plans opposed by Republicans. But to adhere to strict reconciliation rules it allows other elements of the law to remain in place.
It would deny funding for Planned Parenthood for one year. Republicans have sought to cut off support for the group in the wake of undercover videos that show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetuses for research.
Planned Parenthood has denied any wrongdoing.
House Republicans also have set up a special committee to investigate Planned Parenthood further.
“We all know by now that’s just code for a partisan witch-hunt,” Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said at a Democratic National Committee event.
(Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and James Dalgleish)