After years of trying, the House has finally passed a bill to repeal Obamacare.
Of course, Obama will veto the Bill to save Obamacare but it is still important to put him on the spot…
This time, the vote in Congress to send a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act to President Obama’s desk was supposed to be easy.
After trying — and failing – dozens of times to stop Obamacare since it became law five years ago, Congress, now with a Republican majority, envisioned a pathway to victory in 2015 because the party controlled not only the House, but also the Senate.
Republicans understand that Obama will veto any measure to undo his signature domestic policy accomplishment. But that doesn’t matter. As the party in charge, Republicans believe they owe it to the constituents who put them in office to force the issue.
But yanking about 17 million Americans off health insurance may be easier as a campaign slogan than a policy initiative, and Thursday’s long-awaited vote to pass a repeal bill in the Senate – a first — proved difficult until the final gavel.
Even the mass shooting in San Bernardino briefly threatened to derail the Obamacare debate as Democrats took over the floor Thursday to push several gun control amendments. Senate Republicans blocked the Democratic gun-related amendments and narrowly approved the measure to repeal Obamacare by a vote of 52-47. The measure has one more stop at the House (sic) before being sent to Obama’s desk.
“President Obama will have a choice: He can defend a status quo that’s failed the middle class by vetoing the bill, or he can work toward a new beginning and better care by signing it,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
The difficulty in passing the repeal bill was a familiar story of GOP discord. Party leaders had to gut a House-passed repeal bill and cobble together a replacement that would appease the right flank – namely presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who panned earlier attempts as too weak but voted Thursday in favor of the bill.
At the same time, McConnell had to be careful not to lose the support of more moderate-minded members, particularly key senators up for reelection in 2016.
Republicans included a provision to defund Planned Parenthood — which they hope will also cool enthusiasm among some conservatives to include the abortion-related measure in the upcoming spending fight. But the inclusion of the Planned Parenthood provision caused discomfort among swing state senators who would prefer to focus attention on Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
That provision led Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to vote against the bill.
The Senate passed the measure thanks to the special budget reconciliation procedure that allows the party in power to pass the bill with a simple 51-vote majority in the Senate, rather than the usual 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster. But due to the GOP internal divisions, even reaching 51 proved to be a challenge for Senate Republicans, who hold 54 seats.
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