After dozens of unsuccessful attempts to repeal all or part of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, Congressional Republicans on Wednesday finally succeeded in getting a repeal bill to the president’s desk.
The House voted almost entirely along party-lines, 240 to 181, to repeal the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood. Just one Democrat voted for the bill and three Republicans voted against it.
Obama has already made clear that he intends to veto the measure. But repealing the president’s landmark accomplishment continues to be a rallying cry for the GOP, and House Speaker Paul Ryan has vowed to continue the effort.
“First priority in 2016: Putting bill on Obama’s desk that repeals Obamacare,” Ryan tweeted on Monday.
He has since repeated the promise in Tweets using the hashtag “on his desk.”
The Senate passed the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act in December. It was successful because Republicans used the process of budget reconciliation that prevented a filibuster by Senate Democrats.
“We have used the one tool that we can each year – reconciliation – to get a repeal bill on his desk. With this bill we are standing for life,” Ryan said at a press conference hours before the House vote.
Despite not having any “must-pass” bills until September, House Republicans are trying to set the tone for the year ahead with this very early, mostly symbolic vote.
Ryan has said he hopes his chamber will be able to put forward a legislative agenda that the 2016 Republican nominee can build on to give Americans a choice.
“Our top priority in 2016 is going to be offering the country a clear choice with a bold pro-growth agenda. We know the president wants to fill this year with distractions, he wants to talk about anything but his failures. We are not going to let him take us off course. Too much is at stake,” the speaker said Wednesday.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, told reporters Tuesday that Republican leadership knows this will go nowhere and is only moving ahead on this reconciliation process “for messaging purposes and energizing the base.”
Though President Obama will veto this reconciliation bill the congressional effort does actually put repeal of Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood on his desk for the first time.
The House is expected to try and override the veto but will likely go nowhere in the Senate. It takes two-thirds vote in both chambers to override a veto.
There is currently no GOP alternative to Obamacare. Asked why Republicans went ahead with this repeal bill without first putting forward an alternative, Ryan told reporters “just wait.”
The first-term Speaker has vowed to unveil a Republican alternative to the ACA by the end of 2016 but it is very unlikely there will actually be a vote on this while President Obama is in the White House.
There have been ongoing discussions about what a GOP plan could look like over the last few years but nothing has panned out that would cover the amount of uninsured currently covered under the Affordable Care Act.
One of the fears that some had in the Republican leadership when Obamacare was being litigated in the Supreme Court is what would happen if the law was gutted. Republicans would seemingly be on the hook to do something.
This prompted one prominent Republican to tell NBC News, “phew” the Court upheld the law.