It did not take long for the other shoe to fall.
With a week left in the White House, Barack Obama can do little but watch: the process of disassembling his most defining legislative achievement has already begun, and quickly.
Joining the Senate, whose members voted just after midnight on Thursday, the House of Representatives today voted to approve a budget resolution designed to extract the Affordable Care Act from the books. Under the process of “budget reconciliation,” congressional Republicans have been able to avoid the threat of a Democratic filibuster. The Democrats used the same process when the law was first passed in 2010.
Both votes fell close to party lines, with few dissenters: the Senate voted 51-48, and the House today voted 227-198, reflecting the GOP’s majority in both.
House Speaker Paul Ryan referred to party’s repeal efforts as a “rescue mission,” and “a critical first step toward delivering relief to Americans who are struggling under this law.”
From the day of its passage, the polarizing ACA has been in the Republicans’ crosshairs. With a mantra of “repeal and replace” echoing throughout President-elect Donald Trump’s successful campaign, the first of those words is now all but certain. The connotations of the second word remain to be seen.
The ACA first took effect in 2013, and since its passage the percentage of Americans with health insurance rose above 90% for the first time since such statistics have been kept.
Democrats, expectedly, are upset. Democratic Representative John Yarmuth of Kentucky issued a warning: “What we’ll have is repeal and repent, because we’re going to owe a huge apology to the American people for the damage that we cause.”
On November 9th, 2016, the day following Donald Trump’s election victory, over 100,000 people signed up for healthcare through the federal exchange, the most on any given day of Obamacare’s short and likely doomed life.
The story was first reported at “House takes first step towards repealing Obamacare” on CNN.com and “House Joins Senate in Approving Groundwork to Revoke Health Care Law” in the New York Times.