US House votes to begin Obamacare repeal

January 13, 2017 9:00 pm

Speaker of the House talks with reporters during his weekly conference in the Capitol Visitors Center at the Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The US House of Representatives has approved a budget resolution that paves the way for the removal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.
The Republican measure was approved by lawmakers in a 227-198 vote on Friday, only two days after it was passed in the Senate.
Although Democratic and Republican lawmakers voted mostly along party lines, nine Republicans from the centrist and conservative wings of the party teamed up with Democrats to block the resolution.
“This is a critical first step toward delivering relief to Americans who are struggling under this law,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said during a House floor debate.
Republicans view Obamacare as an excessive government intrusion into the healthcare market and argue that it is detrimental to economic growth since it burdens businesses. They say they have a plan to replace it but have offered few details.
The absence of a viable replacement for the program has drawn criticism from Democrats, with Obama and his outgoing administration directly warning Republicans against the repeal.
“They’ve had the luxury of saying we’re going to do a better job without telling us what the better job entails,” said Representative Richard Neal.
According to Ryan, Republicans plan to repeal and replace the law “at the same time.”
To make it difficult for Democrats to oppose the repeal, GOP leaders have decided to use a budget measure as a vehicle to repeal the ACA, a tactic that allows them to set in motion a procedure that requires only a simple majority to pass it.
This strategy let them circumvent a Democratic filibuster in the Senate on Wednesday, when the senators approved the measure in a 51-48 vote.
Without the budget resolution, the GOP would have needed 60 votes to pass legislation required to repeal the law, which is almost impossible given the party’s weak majority.
President-elect Donald Trump, who strongly backs the repeal, said in a press briefing on Wednesday that his administration would soon introduce a plan that would “get health care taken care of in this country” after inauguration on January 20.
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