U.S. House GOP Votes to Kill Obamacare

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives voted once again to repeal President Obama’s controversial national health-reform law known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

As in past votes of its kind, Republicans voted in favor and Democrats opposed.

Since gaining control of Congress’ lower chamber in 2010 on the wave of an upwelling of voter-discontent with the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have made anti-Obamacare votes a regular feature of the chamber’s legislative business.

These efforts have been seen as mostly symbolic, as the Senate had been under Democratic control — until now. This past November Republicans won nine previously Democrat-held Senate seats, giving them an eight-seat advantage in the 100-member upper chamber. While there is a 10-seat difference between the GOP’s 54 seats and the Democrats 44 seats, the chamber’s two Independents — Vermont’s Bernie Sanders and Maine’s Angus King — caucus with the Democrats.

Republican critics of the Affordable Care Act hope to force Obama to unholster his veto pen, which he has promised to do should any of the GOP’s efforts to roll back his signature policy reach his desk.

However, even though Republicans control the Senate, their numbers likely aren’t strong enough to overcome Democratic opposition. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has cautioned House Republicans to be realistic in what they send to the Senate.

H.R. 596 passed on a 239-186 vote. Three Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the legislation.

Tennessee’s congressional delegation voted along party lines, although Rep. Phil Roe was absent due to a family illness. Roe, Black and Blackburn issued statements in support of the bill, which was also co-sponsored by Roe and Black.

The 40 Hour Work Week

Another Obamacare-related bill recently passed by the House with little action in the Senate would revise the Internal Revenue Code to define “full-time worker” as someone working 40-hours-a-week or more — the definition used before the ACA changed it to 30-hours-a-week or more.

The House passed H.R. 30 on January 8 by a vote of 252 to 172, with 12 Democrats crossing the aisle to vote with the GOP. No Republicans voted against the bill.

The Tennessee congressional delegation votes again broke down alone party lines, with the seven Republicans voting for the measure and the two Democrats voting against.

Reps. Roe and Blackburn praised the House’s action, which they said will help keep the American worker from being forced into part time work as employers try to avoid higher costs from health insurance requirements.

However, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the legislation is expected to “increase budget deficits by $18.1 billion over the 2015-2020 period and by $53.2 billion over the 2015-2025 period.”

According to the CBO analysis, by changing the definition of “full-time worker” under law, the bill will reduce the number of those with employer coverage by 1 million, increase the number of people receiving government subsidized care by 500,000 to 1 million and increase the number of uninsured by less than 500,000.

In the Senate, where it has 35 sponsors, S. 30 is currently assigned to the Finance Committee, and has seen no other movement.

Alexander is co-sponsoring the legislation, which didn’t fare very well in a recent a Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee hearing.