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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

House Guts Obamacare & Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON (CN) - The House of Representatives opened the new year Wednesday by achieving long-stated Republican goals of repealing the Affordable Care Act and defunding Planned Parenthood.

The 240-181 vote repeals two mandates within President Barack Obama's signature health care law that require individuals to have health insurance and for businesses with more than 50 employees to provide it for their workers.

Republicans also led the drive to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood, which the GOP has sought to do since undercover videos surfaced last year purporting to show executives haggling over the price of aborted fetuses.

In addition to repealing these key mandates, the legislation would also repeal a tax on medical equipment and the so-called "Cadillac tax" on high-cost employer-sponsored plans.

The repeal of this tax actually garnered some bipartisan support on the Hill. An amendment including it in the reconciliation package in the Senate passed 90-10 in December.

The Senate passed the package 52-47 on Dec. 3 using budget reconciliation, a process lawmakers can use once a year that is not subject to filibuster and requires just 51 votes to pass.

Wednesday's vote is little more than a formality, as Obama already promised a veto of legislation that would torch his health care law. Still, Republicans hailed it as a chance to reach a goal that has eluded them for years.

"With this bill, we are standing for life," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said at a leadership press conference, according to a transcript. "We are confronting the president with the hard, honest truth: Obamacare doesn't work. Higher premiums and fewer choices and restricted access-these are not signs of success. Obamacare is not successful. They are the signs of failure. And the American people deserve better."

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, said in a blog post Monday the vote would "set a tone that represents a better path for our country."

Democrats criticized the resolution as harmful to women's health and to the well-being of Americans who gained health care coverage under Obamacare.

"I wish I could say I'm surprised that House leaders are kicking off 2016 the same way they spent 2015 - attacking women's health - but I'm not," Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Washington state, said on the House floor Wednesday.

This is the first time a bill repealing the contentious health care law has reached the president's desk, though not for lack of trying from Republicans. Democrats took to the floor before the vote to hit the GOP for coming back time and again to vote on a resolution that has little prospect of becoming law.

"I'm almost embarrassed to get up here and discuss this legislation and believe that its sponsors really think that it's going to become law," Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York, said on the House floor before the vote. "That's what the reputation of the Congress is supposed to be all about."

According to a November Gallup poll, 52 percent of Americans still disapprove of the health care law, which Republicans cast as the reason for making Obama go on record as supporting it.

"With this bill, we will force President Obama to show the American people where he stands," McCarthy wrote. "Does he support freedom in health care and the conscience rights of the American people? Or does he want to continue battering people with his failed health care law and forcing taxpayers to support an organization with a corrupt moral compass? Congress is making its choice clear."

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