114th Congress, Vote 253; Senate #22
To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 entirely.
Official Title: An act to authorize funds for Federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, and transit programs, and for other purposes.
SA 2328: To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 entirely. (Amendment to HR 22)
Amendment died when it failed to achieve cloture with Senate vote (49-43) on July 26, 2015.
Synopsis: In July 2015, the Senate opted to use HR 22 – a bill that had been unanimously passed by the House in January – as their placeholder bill for a long term highway funding proposal.
HR 22 was originally passed by the House as the "Hire More Heroes Act of 2015." Its purpose was to allow employers to hire employees with VA or TRICARE coverage without having them included as employees for whom the ACA's employer mandate (requirement to offer group health insurance) applies.
But in July, the Senate used HR 22 as a platform for their DRIVE Act, which is a long-term highway funding bill. The round-about measure was invoked because budget bills cannot originate in the Senate – they must instead begin in the House. But the Senate can use a bill that started in the House and completely replace the text, as they did here.
Once HR 22 was gutted and replaced with the Senate's DRIVE Act, a long list of amendments were proposed. One of them was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's Amendment, SA 2328. (Although many amendments were introduced, SA 2328 was one of only two that was put to a vote.)
SA 2328 was short and to the point, calling for a full repeal of the ACA (aka, Obamacare), effective 180 days after HR 22 is enacted.
But the Senate rejected the Amendment along party lines, in a 49-43 vote on July 26. A 60-vote majority would have been required in order to add SA 2328 to the DRIVE Act. Eight Senators did not vote.
Why supporters pushed for this bill
- SA 2328 marked the first time in more than two years that the Senate has voted on full repeal of the ACA. The Senate regained a Republican majority in January, and SA 2328 gave freshman Senators an opportunity to cast their vote against Obamacare and be on record as officially opposed to the healthcare reform law.
- There were no surprises in terms of votes; Republicans all voted in favor of adding SA 2328 to the DRIVE Act, reiterating their opposition to the ACA.
- Lawmakers were also not surprised that it didn't pass. Senator Ted Cruz (who is fiercely opposed to the ACA and supports repeal measures like SA 2328) had previously criticized the upcoming vote on SA 2328, calling it "meaningless political theater" because the vote would split along party lines, and would fall short of the 60 votes needed to add the amendment to the bill. Instead, Cruz, along with Senator Mike Lee, was pushing for the use of reconciliation – needing only a 51-vote majority – to repeal the ACA.
Why opponents tried to stop the bill
Democrats have long supported the ACA, and continued to reiterate the many ways that it's helping Americans, including an estimated 13 million people who have obtained coverage through the ACA's exchanges, and more than 14 million who have gained coverage under Medicaid.
- President Obama is sure to veto any bill that contains a provision to repeal the ACA. Attaching a repeal amendment to a must-pass highway funding bill puts the entire bill in peril (although the Senate did end up passing the DRIVE Act on a 65-34 vote – without the Obamacare repeal amendment – disagreements with the House remain over some provisions of the bill, so the Senate also passed a temporary highway funding bill on the same day).
- Even among Republicans, there is a growing consensus that full repeal of the ACA is no longer a practical solution. They're pushing instead for incremental changes and repeals of specific portions of the bill – for example, changing the ACA's definition of full time to 40 hours a week, and repealing the medical device tax.
|07/26/2015||Status: Senate cloture motion rejected|
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