House passes two bills to delay key Obamacare requirements
July 17th, 2013
07:48 PM ET
9 months ago

House passes two bills to delay key Obamacare requirements

Washington (CNN) - The House of Representatives passed two bills Wednesday postponing two key provisions of Obamacare, marking nearly 40 times that the Republican-controlled House has attempted to repeal or roll back parts of the president's signature first term accomplishment.

One measure, which passed 264-161, delayed for one year the requirement that employers provide health insurance, something the Obama administration already announced it was doing earlier this month. Thirty-five Democrats joined Republicans on the vote.

The other bill, approved 251-174, also postponed for one year the mandate that individuals sign up for health care coverage. That legislation was backed by 22 Democrats. One Republican, Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Virginia, opposed both bills.

Republicans argued it was unfair for the White House to give businesses a reprieve, but still require individuals to comply with the mandate or face a penalty.

“Why is it that working Americans have to suffer the financial burdens of an overreaching government-run health care system while the same consequences for big business are delayed a year?” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor asked on the House floor.

As it has on most other House Republican measures to change or repeal the health care law, the Obama administration threatened to veto both bills, but they are unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate

House Republicans know neither bill has any chance of actually becoming law. Wednesday’s votes were more about ramping up political pressure on congressional Democrats for the midterm elections. Obamacare continues to split the public, and GOP leaders believe a string of stories about delays and other potential problems enacting the law will create a public backlash.

The GOP campaign committees have made a top priority of putting Democrats in competitive districts - specifically those elected in 2012 - on the defensive on health care. And in fact the list of those who supported the GOP bills mirrored a list of Democrats whom Republicans believe they can defeat in 2014.

Illinois freshman Rep. Cheri Bustos is one of the House GOP's targets. She voted with Republicans on both bills to postpone the mandates and told CNN she has been hearing concerns from small businesses all over her district about dealing with Obamcare's requirements.

"If we're going to say that for small businesses then how do you separate out that it should be different for individuals, it's a consistency thing." Bustos said, echoing an argument that House Republicans made throughout the debate on the House floor.

The Illinois Democrat, who worked for a health care system before coming to Congress, said she supports Obamacare but was open to making changes to improve the law. She also emphasized the need to educate the public about the benefits.

"I think in the end if we fix some of the flaws and if we roll this out in a way that people can understand how it will help, then I think we'll be OK - over time, but I think it will be one of those over time kind of changes. This is a huge change."

But most Democrats argued Wednesday that the House vote delaying the employer mandate was a waste of time since the president already said he'd postpone that provision.

"Here we go again. Another repeal vote. Another political sideshow. And another blow to bipartisanship which is so vital to addressing a whole host of important issues including an issue important to our committee: tax reform,” Michigan Democratic Rep. Sander Levin said. “Instead of moving forward, once again my Republican colleagues are looking backwards."

House Speaker John Boehner argued that it was Congress' job to approve any change to Obamacare, citing the Constitution gives Congress the authority to draft the laws. "The idea that the president can merely go out there and make a decision about what he's going to enforce and what he isn't going to enforce is fundamentally wrong," he said.

Most Democrats did support the administration's decision to give businesses more time to implement the law, but they insisted that delaying the mandate for individuals – a centerpiece of the law – would put at risk health care coverage for millions.

Debate on the House floor showed the massive partisan gulf between the two parties on how the controversial health care law is working now.

"Delaying the employer mandate shows the train is in fact not coming off the rails, it's already off the rails,” Texas Republican Rep. Michael Burgess said.

California Democrat Jim McDermott cited new reports about health care costs dropping in many states and pointed to a report out Wednesday that premiums in New York state are being cut in half.

"There is no evidence of the sticker shock you will hear about. The promises we made Americans are being fulfilled and Republicans see a giant election map slowly losing red dots," McDermott said.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney brushed off the votes on Capitol Hill, saying they proved that Republicans were determined to do everything they could to undermine the law rather than ensure Americans received health care.

"There are few things more cynical than House Republicans who have made it their mission in life to repeal the Affordable Care Act and deny the American people the benefits that they would receive from implementation of the Affordable Care Act, claiming that they are concerned about the delay of the implementation of a relatively small provision within the Affordable Care Act," Carney said.


Filed under: House
soundoff (212 Responses)
  1. b0bc@t

    Even SchoolHouse Rock understood how a bill becomes law, but our President has decided to take tax policy, healthcare, and immigration upon himself to change by directive, and decide which provisions he will enforce and which he won't. Shouldn't he reach out to offer or negotiate a compromise, rather than decide that "this bill won't get my signature if it reaches my desk?"

    If the NY insurance exchange will reduce costs by 50% or more, does that indicate that ObamaCare works, or that the insurance industry has been overcharging our residents wholesale for years, and now are backed by the government mandate, ensuring that the obscene abuse of medical costs can proceed unfettered by the thieves running the industry?
    That was a multi TRILLION dollar industry, correct? Give the keys to henhouse to the hungry insurance wolves who have been feeding on our sick and dying for years and years. Best plan that insurance money can buy, I guess.

    July 18, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  2. gladiatorgrl

    They haven't come up with an idea since 1989 and this is all they can do?

    July 18, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. Larry L

    Republicans offer nothing but obstructionism. One health event can ruin an uninsured family's financial future forever. Costs are rising 7-9% per year! Do the math! The new law requires people to be responsible for their own insurance costs rather than using the E.R. – then sticking the public with outrageous cost increases. Only about 2% of small businesses will actually be affected. They won't be able to drop you because of cancer or other expensive illnesses and accidents. People want the provisions of the law but are allowing themselves to let politicians poison their minds against a law they heven't even read. It's simple math – not politics. Think. What have the Republicans actually proposed to solve the problem? Nothing.

    July 18, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    The desperate Guns Over People tea potty just wasted 55 million more tax dollars. 2014 comes quickly for them.

    July 18, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  5. ally buster

    republicans just don't get it. The American people are sick and tired of insurance companies running rough-shod over them with constant premium increases and paperwork all while refusing to provide proper care. Sorry conservatives, but you got the boot in the last election and you are just going to have to understand that PPAC is LAW!

    July 18, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  6. Obama's 'piece of medical waste' legilsation

    In hind-sight on terrible piece of legislation, it is now becoming painfully obvious that this was passed "by hook and crook" in the House and Senate, was doomed from the beginning. This hopefully serves as a lesson to Obama, that even when you are able to 'ram-it-through', if it stinks, it will certainly find its ultimate resting place in the medical waste bin. Remember this when you try and ram through immigration, gun or any other piece of partisan legislation, if it doesn't have merit – it WILL end in failure.

    July 18, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. Al

    The real goal is to delay OBAMA in general. At every turn he is trying to destroy Amercia. He is the lost of the lost.

    July 18, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  8. Texican

    you idiot Left Wing nuts, why do you believe for one second Obama is "one of you" when clearly, he has lived the within the 1% all you liberals scream about being so evil ? His life was of complete privilege and attendance to the finest most expensive schools. He is and always has been a very rich elitist, and how you all hate the "rich" right ? Do you not see the hypocrisy ? My God, what is wrong with relying on YOURSELF to provide for yourself and your family and have ALL GOV'T stay as far OUT of your life as possible ? Do they even teach Self-Reliance or Puritan Work Ethic any more ?

    July 18, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. Wallaceboy

    Here is an interesting idea. After you give us all the benefit of your insight re Obamacare call yourself out as; A) Uninsured, unemployed, minimal tax burden (if any) or B) Insured, working, significant tax payer. I would bet that the correlation with confidence in AHC Act would be very high. I fit into group "B". My already high premiums have increased significantly since the passage of AHC Act and my taxes are going through the roof. Now I am paying more for my HC and more for the HC of folks in "A". I am waiting for the "affordable" part of the act to kick in – don't hold your breath.
    Just more class and economic warfare from our friend in the WH.

    July 18, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  10. dan

    Wow! The republican controlled house has again wasted even more taxpayer money passing bills that they have passed over 30 times over the last few years, has no chance of getting passed the senate or signed by Obama, and is not helpful in any way to move our country forward. How exactly is this helping anyone in the US besides the most conservative faction of our society? Answer – IT'S NOT! Thx republicans. Thx for wasting money, time, and valuable resources that could be put to use helping america. Well done.

    July 18, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  11. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    The Guns Over People tea potty ACA lies are coming home to roost. Americans need insurance badly.

    July 18, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  12. IndianaDobie

    Does the President have the authority to pick and choose which parts of the Affordable Care Act go into effect. Congress voted and passed the bill that included an employer mandate effective 1/1/2014. The President signed that bill into law. Now he wants to just pick and choose which parts actually become law? I don't think so. Congress can change the law – and it looks like they are actually doing what the President wants to do anyway – delay the employer mandate without changing the rest of the law in the same bill. So why are Democrats resistant?

    July 18, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
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