In a big legislative victory for GOP leaders in Congress and President Donald Trump, Republicans on Thursday muscled a bill through the House that would make major changes in the Obama health law, taking a first step to fulfill their campaign vow to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Obamacare replacement bill moves to the Senate
The vote was 217-213, with 20 Republicans voting against the GOP measure. No Democrats crossed party lines to support the bill, as backers heralded their success.
“A lot of us have been waiting seven years to cast this vote,” said Speaker Paul Ryan, as he closed the debate.
“Today is a historic day,” said Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA). “This is the beginning of fixing America’s health care system.”
“We have come up with a plan, with a strategy to save health care for the American people,” said Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL).
“We’re finally getting rid of this train wreck called Obamacare,” said Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA).
The vote came after weeks of negotiations among Republicans which produced several changes, allowing states to get a waiver to certain bedrock portions of the Obama health law.
In an at-times chippy debate on the House floor, Democrats denounced the GOP health care changes.
“Trumpcare is another false promise,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH).
“Tens of thousands of Americans will die if this bill passes,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).
“This is not how Washington is supposed to work,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL).
A number of Republicans who wanted much more in the way of change still voted for the bill, encouraged by their leaders to move the process forward and on to the Senate.
“This is a step in the right direction,” said Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). “I would like to do more, but we are where we are.”
“It’s time to do this,” said Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), a House Freedom Caucus member who had been a reluctant supporter of the initial GOP plan.
“It’s this, or we get stuck with the Affordable Care Act forever,” Yoho added after a closed-door meeting of GOP lawmakers.
Most of the 20 Republicans who voted against the bill were more moderate GOP lawmakers, though a few conservatives joined in, as well.
The plan now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the head of the committee dealing primarily with health policy, immediately signaled that he was ready to work on the matter.