In the News
Jul 17 2013
WASHINGTON — House Republicans voted on Wednesday to delay core provisions of President Barack Obama's health care law, emboldened by the administration's concession that requiring companies to provide coverage for their workers next year may be too complicated.
After a day of heated rhetoric, the House voted largely along party lines, 264-161, to delay by one year the so-called employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act. It voted 251-174 to extend a similar grace period to virtually all Americans who will be required to obtain coverage beginning Jan. 1, the linchpin of the law.
Rep. Tom Rice, R-SC, said he was proud to join his fellow Republicans in passing legislation that “delays both the employer and individual mandate portions of this law, bringing us one step closer to full repeal.” Rice said the sooner Americans realize the effects of the law, the sooner the president will no longer be able to ignore calls for its full repeal.
“The president’s health care law is a train wreck, at best,” Rice said. “Already premiums have skyrocketed, employers have cut employees’ hours, and now the president has begun to unilaterally cherry-pick which parts of the law he wants to enforce. This law has single-handedly stifled our businesses’ confidence and strangled their ability to grow. No longer can American families depend on finding full-time employment; part-time employment is the new normal in America.”
The dual political-show votes marked the 38th time the GOP majority has tried to eliminate, defund or scale back the law since Republicans took control of the House in January 2011.
However, the House legislation stands no chance in the Democratic-run Senate.
The goal of the health care law is to provide coverage to nearly 50 million Americans without health insurance and lower skyrocketing costs. But in the three years since Obama signed his signature law, the public remains highly skeptical and the administration's abrupt decision earlier this month to delay the employer provision only fueled more doubts.
Republican foes welcomed it as a political gift, not only to assail Obama but to arrange votes that put House Democrats on record ahead of next year's congressional elections.
"This administration cannot make its own law work," said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, during House debate.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the decision was "a clear signal that even the administration doesn't believe the country is ready to sustain the painful economic impact this law will have."
Eager to counter the Republican criticism, Obama plans to deliver remarks Thursday focusing on rebates that consumers are already receiving from insurance companies under the health care law.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama will draw attention to the 8.5 million consumers who have received an average consumer rebate of about $100. Carney also highlighted reports that some states are already anticipating lower premiums under the Affordable Care Act.
The House vote delaying the employer requirement codified the administration's decision, but the White House insisted it was unnecessary and issued a tough veto threat. Democrats dismissed the entire GOP effort as just another fruitless attack on a law that has been upheld by the Supreme Court.
"Well, here we go again. Another repeal vote, another political side show," said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich.
Morning News reporter Lindsay S. Buchanan contributed to this story.