US Congress approves first step for repealing Obamacare (Update)

January 13, 2017

The US House of Representatives on Friday joined the Senate in passing a critical measure that marks the first major step toward repealing outgoing President Barack Obama's landmark but controversial health care reforms.

The House's near party-line vote of 227 to 198 approved a budget blueprint which provides Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress, with a framework for dismantling the Affordable Care Act.

But one week before Republican President-elect Donald Trump takes office, a sense of urgency has swept over Washington about what his party will put forward as a replacement for the law, with Democrats warning of disastrous consequences should Republicans act too hastily.

"This resolution essentially fires the starting pistol... for repealing Obamacare," said Representative Bill Johnson, an Ohio Republican.

"This is a critical first step to deliver relief to Americans struggling under this law," House Speaker Paul Ryan told fellow members, describing as a "rescue mission" the latest effort to unwind Obamacare.

"This experiment has failed," and "we have to step in before things get worse."

The Senate passed the resolution Thursday. It received no Democratic support in either chamber, highlighting the intensely partisan fight that lies ahead.

The resolution provides Republicans with a powerful tool, called reconciliation, which allows repeal legislation to proceed through the 100-member Senate with a simple majority, protected from a Democratic filibuster that requires a 60-vote threshold to overcome.

Trump made repeal of the law a central plank of his insurgent campaign, and he sounded triumphant ahead of the vote.

"The 'Unaffordable' Care Act will soon be history!" he tweeted early Friday.

Days earlier he said the Republicans ought to repeal and replace Obamacare quickly and "simultaneously."

During a Thursday town hall style event Ryan said he was on board, and that he envisioned action on a plan "within the first hundred days."

'Cut' and run?

Unwinding Obamacare will be a monumental task. Republican leadership is moving carefully, stressing it does not want to "pull the rug out from anyone" who might lose coverage if there is no replacement plan on offer.

But there is debate among Republicans about how—and how fast—to proceed.

Charlie Dent, one of nine House Republicans who voted against the resolution, expressed "reservations" about quickly repealing parts of Obamacare without a credible replacement at the ready.

"I think the repeal plan needs to be fully developed and better articulated prior to moving forward," he told CNN.

The White House touts Obamacare as a success, saying more than 20 million Americans have gained health insurance through the law.

The Affordable Care Act forbids insurance companies from denying health care due to pre-existing conditions, abolishes lifetime caps on care, and allows children to stay on their parents' plans until age 26, three provisions that have proved popular nationwide.

Ryan insists the Republican plan that moves forward will include its own versions of such provisions.

Democrats warn that scrapping the law could result in tens of millions of Americans losing coverage.

"They want to cut benefits and run. They want to cut access and run," House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said of Republicans, and accused Ryan of peddling "mythology" about the law.

House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries offered harsher criticism about Republican efforts to swiftly dismantle the reforms, despite not formulating a viable replacement plan in the last six years.

"All you have is smoke and mirrors, and the American people are getting ready to get screwed," Jeffries said on the House floor.

Explore further: US Senate takes first step toward unraveling Obamacare

Related Stories

US Senate takes first step toward unraveling Obamacare

January 12, 2017
The Republican-led US Senate held a procedural vote early Thursday which set in motion the eventual rollback of The Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform bill.

Congress to complete first step to repealing health law

January 13, 2017
The House is poised to back legislation that is the first—and by far the easiest—step toward gutting President Barack Obama's divisive health care law.

Obama, Team Trump in health care showdown

January 4, 2017
US President Barack Obama called on congressional Democrats Wednesday to "fight" to preserve his signature health care reform, with its future in doubt as Donald Trump's incoming administration vowed a swift repeal of the ...

Obama moves to stop Trump gutting signature healthcare law

January 4, 2017
US President Barack Obama will make a short but politically charged trip from the White House to Capitol Hill Wednesday, calling allied lawmakers to arms in defense of his signature healthcare reforms.

Obama dismissive as US House votes to repeal 'Obamacare'

February 4, 2015
US House Republicans took the increasingly routine step Tuesday of voting to repeal "Obamacare," a seemingly doomed effort that President Barack Obama ridiculed as making "absolutely no sense."

Senate GOP setting up 'Obamacare' vote on highway bill

July 24, 2015
Senate Republican leaders announced plans Friday to use a must-pass highway bill to try to overturn President Barack Obama's health care law, in the latest GOP assault on "Obamacare."

Recommended for you

Dog ownership linked to lower mortality

November 17, 2017
A team of Swedish scientists have used national registries of more than 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 to study the association between dog ownership and cardiovascular health. Their study shows that dog owners had a lower ...

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.