House passes two bills to delay key Obamacare requirements
July 17th, 2013
07:48 PM ET
1 year 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. Steve

    Republicans know this legislation won't pass the Senate. They're just wasting time and our tax dollars for political grandstanding. It's time to throw out every single last one of them.

    July 17, 2013 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  2. larry

    how about passing a jobs bill that doesn't include a tax break?

    July 17, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  3. Robert

    And that because Obama and the Dem is for only self interests. they have shown this by only giving businesses a reprieve, And not the hard working Americans people.

    July 17, 2013 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  4. winchester74

    it's all part of the Republican plan to create jobs ....

    July 18, 2013 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  5. jake

    what ever happened to "laser focus on creating jobs?"

    July 18, 2013 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  6. stevetall

    Republicans just don't get it. How about a little statesmanship, you worthless weasels? You were elected to help move this country forward, not stall us in our tracks. The voters will remember this obstructionism during the 2014 election cycle, so good luck with your next careers With any luck, those jobs will be in fields where you can be fired for doing nothing!

    July 18, 2013 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  7. Rememberwhatbushdid

    eric cantor is overreaching with his political philosophy. He is not a representative but a lackey. eric cantor's way would continue to cost hundreds of american lives every week. the center for disease control says 500 lives a week are already being saved by the preventive care mandate in obamacare. but care is not what cantor is after. it's to preserve an immoral, antiquated, deadly for profit healthcare system.

    July 18, 2013 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  8. julnor

    Anti-Obamacare bills? One of them is exactly what the President wants to do. Surely the Dems would support their own President and validate the power of Congress to make laws.

    July 18, 2013 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  9. Jim g

    With all the problems this Congress has created by its inactivity, I am glad they have time to waste on the same legislation time after time. These bills get voted on almost forty times while bills that can actually help the American people collect dust.Is it any wonder this Congress has an approval rating approaching zero. Keep up the great job, I here the circus is looking to hire some clowns.

    July 18, 2013 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  10. 4wonderland

    Can’t we just fire these jokers? No other employee would ever get away with only showing up for 1/3 of the year, and when they do show up doing nothing you have hired them to do. We pay the congress’s health care costs, give and them 244 days off per year. Perhaps we are the jokers. Can’t we just kick everyone out and elect only independents.

    July 18, 2013 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  11. Peter Grenader

    Here we go again... yet another foolish celebratory vote by OUR house of reps at our expense by the 'spend spend spend' GOP as those poll numbers keep on dropping....

    July 18, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  12. danny white

    There goes those weak democrats, crossing the line.........again!

    July 18, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  13. Lib

    When will the republicans just give it up and get back to work?

    July 18, 2013 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  14. AgrippaMT

    Isn't it truly amazing that the House Republicans are still so determined to commit political suicide. By all means, let them do it.

    July 18, 2013 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  15. Oregonian

    ....and they wonder why people laugh at them and point?

    July 18, 2013 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  16. Anonymous

    Thank you Jay Carney !

    You got that right.

    The new health care law is not perfect but it's a good start towards universal health insurance, something that most other prosperous industrialized countries already have. Thisnew law will help millions of people become covered by insurance if the Repugnantcans would just stop trying to hurt the law. Stop gloating at each setback.

    Make yourselves useful for a change, House Republicans. How about passing a jobs bill, perhaps modernizing some of our oldest infrastructure. You stopped every jobs bill the Dems tried to enact. Then, complained about how high the unemployment rate is.

    Republicans did prett much nothing during the eight years of the George W. Bush presidency to help millions more people get covered by health insurance.

    Then, in January 2009, when the Democrats got control of BOTH the Congress and the White House, we had a opportunity for some real, meaningful and comprehensive advance towards universal health care.

    Republicans did everything possible do to op the law. Failing that, they now try to destroy the law. They childishly threw a political temper tantrum because the bill didn't fit their own ideological ideas of limited government. The put their party ideology ahead of any concerns about meeting the health care needs of millions of uninsured Americans. For that, the GOP should hang their heads in shame. (Not that they will).

    Republicans offered alternative proposals to the health care law which were weak, ineffective, and would not have covered anywhere NEAR as many people as the new health law will when fully implemented.

    July 18, 2013 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  17. Frank Klus

    Great! Now the Republicans are on the side of the little people. What crap! I just got done reading how these same republican congressmen aren't interested in voter rights. They're perfectly content to suppress people's right to vote but now they want to be on our side and protect us from having to have health insurance. The darlings!

    July 18, 2013 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  18. Name Uche Agonsi

    Reprieve to businesses ?...... This statement is at the core of the whole cowardly acts against Obamacare. Its benefit to the average Americans/poor, not a penaty. The Repubs see these things from their anus. Look at the issue of undocumented citizens in immigration bills, after several months of grin opposition Bohner is just realising that kids of immigrants deserve legal status in US.......even when he still advocates sending their parents to jail. What a legislative time waste on the burden of America taxpayers. The Obamacare issue should be given a chance to work. The Repubs need instead consider it a noose for the Democrats to hang themselves if they are sincere in the opposition.

    July 18, 2013 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  19. Greenspam

    They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. Senate will not either bother to debate this once again so this bill will do ABSOLUTELY nothing.

    July 18, 2013 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  20. Jason

    I work in Healthcare as a pharmacist. Copays are already rising in anticipation of Obamacare. By next year copays and premiums will increase anywhere from 30 to 80%. Not fiction, truth. The rich aren't paying for those on Obamacare, we the middle class are. The economy can't flow if the government controls the economy, and healthcare shouldn't be decided and especially not run by the IRS. Can't trust them with your money, but you can trust them with your personal health information...come on don't be an Obama lemming, think for yourself for once. Obama should listen to the people represented by the House of Representatives, they represent the people and the people don't want Obamacare now that they are seeing what it is. Imagine a hospital with employees working less than 30 hours, it happened at ORMC in Orlando. Less healthcare workers due to an unfair law, and more patients is an equation for disaster.

    July 18, 2013 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  21. Just me

    This article is very biased and opinionated – journalism can not be trusted anymore – people need to do their own research and find that the Affordable Care Act is so complex that the liberals that passed it don't even know how to manage it – admittedly! So maybe the Republicans had a point all along?! So why are we bashing them for getting this one right??? There's a reason why they've fought it for so long. Why isn't there more outrage about the IRS managing this monster – where's that story? We can't even trust them to manage what they have now, how in the world can we trust them with additional power like this? How sad that the IRS will penalize young adults who are trying to make ends meet – or those that don't qualify for the free state aid because they make just a bit too much but yet have very little to show for their hard work (I know a few). We need reform, but there are other options that are better than charging a fine to the very people that this bill was supposed to help – and this bill is far from affordable – it's causing all of our rates to skyrocket and young people to pay more... ! Stop the bias CNN ... your influence is not bringing about the hope and change that is needed. It's a shame that people love drama so much that reporters are now brought down to the tabloid level to exploit things that affect us all in a way that is skewed and one sided... we can only hope that more people smarten up and stop believing the nonsense. We, the people, need to realize that they're just using us as pawns in their political game...

    July 18, 2013 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  22. Damb S

    Conservatives and Republican voters should be proud.

    July 18, 2013 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  23. Seidan1

    I'm so glad the Tea Party is continuing on its anti-obamacare campaign instead of fixing the economy like they promised they were gonna do.

    /end sarcasm

    July 18, 2013 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  24. Vicki

    What can you expect from the loser republicans. Nothing but nothing gets done, but they waste time on what will not get done. For that I thank the Lord. Republicans sure are against people having health insurance that they have and enjoy. Republicans are the ones who could care less if you live or die because you can't afford health care. It is pathetic that republicans believe anything republican politicians ever say because they are liars and always serving that one percent who really don't want health insurance for the people who need it.

    July 18, 2013 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  25. Steve

    Dear house,

    Stop this wasteful bullshit you're doing. Pass real legislation, not pandering to your masters.

    Love,
    The American people.

    July 18, 2013 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
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