House joins Senate in preparing for speedy repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
WASHINGTON — Ascendant Republicans drove a budget through Congress on Friday that gives them an early but critical victory in their crusade to scrap President Obama’s health care overhaul.
The vote trains the spotlight on whether they and Donald Trump can deliver on repeated pledges to not just erase the statute but replace it.
Demonstrating the GOP’s willingness to plunge into a defining but risky battle, the House used a near party-line 227-198 roll call to approve a budget that prevents Senate Democrats from derailing a future bill, thus far unwritten, annulling and reshaping Obama’s landmark 2010 law. The budget, which won Senate approval early Thursday, does not need the president’s signature.
“The ‘Unaffordable’ Care Act will soon be history!” Trump tweeted Friday in a dig at the statute’s name, the Affordable Care Act.
But the real work looms in coming months as the new administration and congressional Republicans write legislation to erase much of the health care law and replace it with a GOP version. Republicans still have internal divisions over what that new law would look like, though past GOP proposals have cut much of the existing law’s federal spending and eased coverage requirements while relying more on tax benefits.
Friday’s final vote was preceded by debate that saw hyperbole on both sides and underscored how the two parties have alternate-universe views of Obama’s overhaul. Democrats praised it for extending coverage to tens of millions of Americans, helping families afford policies and seniors buy prescriptions, while Republicans focused on the rising premiums and deductibles and limited access to doctors and insurers that have plagued many.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said the GOP was moving toward making things worse for health care consumers. “They want to cut benefits and run,” she said of Republicans.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. (third from left), says President Obama’s health care law has not fulfilled promises to lower costs and expand choices.