House Republicans to vote on Obamacare repeal as Trump declares health law will ‘soon be history’
U.S. House Republicans moved ahead on Friday with legislation aimed at dismantling Obamacare, despite concerns about not having a replacement for the healthcare program and the potential financial cost of repealing President Barack Obama’s landmark law.
Moderate Republican Representative Charlie Dent said he had reservations about voting for the effort to start a repeal but would not say whether he would vote for or against it.
Dent and other House Republicans on Friday speculated there was enough support within their party to pass the measure instructing committees to begin writing legislation to repeal Obamacare, known formally as the Affordable Care Act.
In a procedural vote that strictly followed party lines and indicated unity among Republicans, the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday morning agreed to begin debating that measure in anticipation of voting on it later in the afternoon.
The Republican-led Congress, under pressure from President-elect Donald Trump to act quickly, made the first move toward scrapping the law on Thursday when the Senate voted to instruct key committees to draft legislation by Jan. 27 to repeal it.
The House has set a vote on the measure for Friday afternoon with Democrats expected to oppose it.
Trump applauded the swift efforts with a Friday morning tweet saying, “The ‘Unaffordable’ Care Act will soon be history!” The president-elect, who takes office on Jan. 20, pressed lawmakers this week to repeal and replace it “essentially simultaneously.”
Some Republicans have expressed concern about starting a repeal before there is clarity about how to replace provisions of the complicated and far-reaching law.
The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has said repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health insurance law entirely would cost roughly $350 billion over 10 years.
Conservative Representative Trent Franks of Arizona dismissed concerns about adding billions of dollars to U.S. deficits. But Franks, who opposes abortion, said he would vote for the repeal measure because it also aims to stop all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, a women’s healthcare provider that uses some of its private funding for abortions.
Democrats, who have vowed to fight the repeal effort, have accused Republicans of rushing to scrap a law that has enabled up to 20 million previously uninsured Americans obtain health coverage, without offering a firm replacement plan.
Republicans, who have challenged Obamacare since it was enacted in 2010, say a good replacement would give states more control of a healthcare program.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Bill Trott)