Tags: Obamacare | committee | vote | healthcare

House Passes Obamacare Repeal

By    |   Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 08:00 AM

On Feb. 3, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives fulfilled its plan of passing H.R. 596, a bill to repeal Obamacare. Democrats took many opportunities to point out that this was the 56th vote to repeal Obamacare, but the so-called Affordable Care Act is still in effect. Republicans pushed gamely forward, knowing that they had the votes to win and to give newly elected members an opportunity to register their opposition to Obamacare.

Considering how often the House has debated this issue and how well members must know their lines by now, the debate was spirited and had its share of high points. In addition to reporting the results of the day's work, this article will cover procedural fine points to help readers who choose to follow the link below and watch the debate, beginning at 2:40:36 of the Feb. 3 session.

First the House voted to approve the rule under which the bill would be considered. These votes came after a debate managed by Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, a Rules Committee member who has emerged as one of the leaders of the debate because he is a physician. The Democrats were represented by Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., who led the opposition to the rule at the Rules Committee hearing the previous day.

Three votes followed. The first was a motion to approve the previous question, which passed by a party-line vote of 242-176. This had the effect of ending the debate on the rule, but it seemed to be a formality, because the debate was winding down anyway. This vote set the pattern for the afternoon's votes and demonstrated that the Republicans were in command, which everyone knew was the case. There immediately followed a vote to approve the rule, which passed by a similar vote of 242-178. Next was a vote to approve the Journal, which was a merely procedural vote that occurs every day and has nothing to do with the Obamacare bill.

There followed a procedure as provided by the rule, which was unusual in that the time for debate was 90 minutes, rather than the usual 60, in order to accommodate the three committees that all had jurisdiction over the bill, so that each of six members would control 15 minutes.

During the first portion of the debate, assigned to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Penn., controlled the time for the Republicans and spoke of the negative effect Obamacare has on the economy because the time of arts teachers has been cut to 3 1/2 days a week.

The committee Democrats were led by Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., who argued that 19 million Americans have benefited from the law and that it is popular, whereas the alternative would be "skeletal" healthcare plans and Republicans have offered no alternative.

The second portion of the debate, controlled by the Committee on Ways and Means, was led by Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who accused the Democrats of being "scared" when they enacted Obamacare without any meaningful proceedings in the House, while the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., contended that Republicans are trying to repeal the Act for the very reason that it is working.

In the last stage of the debate, controlled by the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., spoke of tearful meetings with constituents who have lost access to their physicians and their healthcare plans. He declared that at the end of the day, this vote is about the effect of the Act on the American people.

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., complained that workers have been "stuck" in jobs they cannot leave for fear of losing their healthcare coverage.

Finally, in accordance with the rule, the Democrats had the right to offer a motion to recommit the bill and require it to be reported back with an amendment the Democrats drafted. This was defeated by a vote of 179-241, and the bill to repeal Obamacare passed, again by a party-line vote, 239-186.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
On Feb. 3, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives fulfilled its plan of passing H.R. 596, a bill to repeal Obamacare. Democrats took many opportunities to point out that this was the 56th vote to repeal Obamacare, but the so-called Affordable Care Act is still in effect.
Obamacare, committee, vote, healthcare
678
2015-00-04
Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 08:00 AM
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