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. bill murry

    Don't like it, do like it? Get out and vote, do what u think is right.....

    July 18, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  2. Craig in Pa.

    2014 can't get here quick enough...Flush the toilet and get rid if the obstructionist Republicans...Hopefully the party will die before too long!

    July 18, 2013 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  3. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Mr. President ! Mr. President !!!

    They won't eat the dog food.

    NOT even the UNIONS !!!

    July 18, 2013 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  4. onlyfacts

    I have an idea. Let's all get together and build a giant wall down the middle of the country. Conservatives get one side and Liberals the other. We each have our own President, congress and laws. That way the "Conservative side can continue to let insurance companies rip them off and deny them coverage. They can continue to shoot themselves with their guns. They can continue polluting their water & air. Liberals can even put big fans on top of the wall, powered by the Conservatives wonderful coal, pointed to the Conservative side to send any pollution over, since it doesn't matter anyway. We will keep our Socialist President who has destroyed the economy to the point that it's stronger than ever and only improving. The right can continue to fund their wars and defund their education system. We will talk to other countries and use the money saved to educate our future. The right can continue to watch Fox "news" for their daily dose of misinformation. The left can continue to watch Fox for their daily dose of comedy. OR where is Planet B? It's a shame we have to cohabitate with so many brainless people!

    July 18, 2013 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  5. Minnie Mouse

    Yes, I think that is awesome! That is so wrong for any business to be granted one year extention and stiff the rest of American people with fines who don't have insurance on Jan. 1, 2014. The law needs to effective as it was written. Everyone starting on January 1, 2014 will be requried to purchase insurance and for employers are to provide for the employees. No where does it state that any certain groups of people will be granted a one year extention! The fines were intended for everyone, and that includes businesses.

    July 18, 2013 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  6. Kiki

    The GOP is out of control. They don't care for the people in america. Their job is not to create jobs, rather to block the entire country from moving forward.

    July 18, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  7. Dixie

    This could be a good idea. It would give the exchanges more time to come online and people need this time to deside on getting signed up. I worked for medicare insurance and the enrollment period was a nightmare every Oct. There are so many system issues that can and do cause problems and to use a more complicated system well that is going to be just crazy. There will be millions of people trying to use the system all at once. Can the system handle it? No one knows. Take the time to test the system. Take the time to get the infomation out and make people more comfortable with it. Right now it's all political scare tacktics. No wone really knows what is right or wrong. Both parties need to do better. If it can work great. If it can't don't waste our time with it or ant more money on it.

    July 18, 2013 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  8. maximusvad

    really GOP...is this the best you can do for jobs and the economy ?

    July 18, 2013 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  9. Eagle0421

    Oh, we get it. The President can delay and no big deal. The Republicans vote to delay and it is evil. Obama can spy, no. big deal. Bush does it on foreign calls to known terrorists, evil. Obama kills with drones, perfectly ok. Bush pours some water on a terrorists face, torture.

    July 18, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  10. ghost

    Come on 2014. It is time for a change. CLINTION 2016

    July 18, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  11. pokydoke

    As always the Republican party wants to keep all but the top 2% barefoot and pregnant.

    July 18, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  12. Ron in SC

    They can go after the Affordable Health Care Law and we can go after them. If anyone has proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that they don't belong or deserve to be in congress it is the GOP/Tea Party. They haven't done anything useful or helpful to the American people. Instead, they are trying to pass laws that will harm millions of Americans and the worst part is they are getting paid very well for this and have great benefits and when they are done they continue getting these benefits and pay. What scum.

    July 18, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  13. Tigas

    "Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this Presidency" – Obama

    Rule of Law when convenient... ObamaCare was passed and should be processed. They are delaying because they know it will devastate small businesses.

    July 18, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  14. L.Sanfod

    These GOP congress people fight like hell to be re-elected so they can hold on to their benefits, healthcare, vacations, salaries and other perks paid for by us.They have no problem taking our money and living on the dole in their self directed welfare society. But, work for the common good of all the people is out of the questions. They have no time for that. Why worry, they have it all.

    July 18, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  15. RandyIA

    Well said Eagle. I'm trying to figure out why the left is complaining, the Republicans just agreed with the President, then took it 1 step farther. How is this obstructionist?

    July 18, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  16. amathonn@yahoo.com

    If they can delay the employer mandate, there's no reason they can't also delay the individual mandate. Corporations have a lot more money to throw around than we do. More proof that this bill is all about generating profits for insurance companies.

    July 18, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  17. disqus_m4RzRjSnrs

    I know that Obama has delayed the plan for business, but why were the American private citizens excluded from the delay?

    July 18, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  18. RandyIA

    According to the left, if the Senate passes a bill and the House doesn't, the Republicans are being obstructionist. If the House passes legislation and the Senate won't pass the bill, it's called grandstanding and a waste of time. Please help me understand.

    July 18, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  19. Tony in STL

    Typical and expected house con move. Anything to hinder the progress of our great nation. Eventually, they people will remove the current republican establishment, along with a few "Blue Dog" democrats. I don't hate republicans, a lot of good ideas are out there, ...but the current team must go! For the sake of our nation, and our world image.

    July 18, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  20. DJ Reality

    Here they go again and again. If it is one thing we can be sure of in this world is the the house GOP are experts in wasting time and money. I bet most of us miss having the democrats in charge of the house now. They got more done in two years than the GOP has in two years and counting.

    July 18, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  21. us_1776

    The House GOP votes for the 38th and 39th time on Obamacare.

    But still no JOBS bill.

    .

    July 18, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  22. Just me

    Government as a whole, is out of control. Politics should not be a game – there should not be a winner and a loser. Stop thinking that the precious Democrats are for you – they are anything BUT... they're just better at USING you to get to their end goal – which is big government control and a dumbed down society to suit their needs of more voters... Until those that claim that they are liberal stop blaming the GOP for blocking things – how about we define what 'moving forward' means... and why on earth we would feel that everyone should 'move forward' as defined by what you want... your definition of moving forward is much different than my definition of moving forward. People have to stop thinking at the idealistic macro level and start thinking about what this 'change' means for future America... regardless of the party putting forth the change. The dumber a society, the more power to the government... take that power back, do some research on the issue and do NOT believe what the media on any side tells you. Facts – not rhetoric. Facts – not emotion.

    July 18, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  23. MRsluggo

    What I fail to understand is how the president can postpone part of the law for a year without congress being involved ? Isn't that kind of like a dictatorship?

    July 18, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  24. Greg

    If the GOP put this much time and energy into trying to bring down a law that was found constitutional into jobs we'd have full employment. But, they have to appease the Koch brothers.

    July 18, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  25. dabble53

    Let's see...."because of this bill my premiums have shot way up"......did you have no premium increases before the bill? How much would your premiums increase if the bill had not been passed?
    Or, let's see....NY at least just reported a big drop in premiums because of the bill – anticipation of a much larger pool of insureds plus increased competition due to the exchanges....
    And how many plans/insurance companies have had to actually refund part of the premiums because they weren't actually paying out enough on their policies (keeping it all for the fat cats at top instead of properly paying for the policy coverages)?
    While we're at it, let's deal with the "death panels" that seem to keep coming up....how many denials have the retail (read for-profit) insurance companies handed out? Sounds like death panels to me.

    July 18, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9