House Passes Budget Reconciliation Bill

October 28, 2015

pic-capitol-cloudsOn Oct. 23, the House passed a measure (H.R. 3762) by a vote of 240-189 that would scrap parts of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and block federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year. Seven Republicans voted against the measure while one Democrat—Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn.)—voted for it.

The White House has already said that President Barack Obama will veto the package, but Republicans have been touting the use of the expedited budget process as a way to get legislation to his desk. Reconciliation allows a measure to advance through the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60-vote requirement.

Specifically, the package would strike the health law mandates on individuals to buy health coverage and on employers to offer it to workers or face penalties, as well as its taxes on medical devices and high-cost “Cadillac” employer-sponsored plans. It also would eliminate the law’s fund for prevention and public health activities and a still-unenforced requirement for large employers to automatically enroll new full-time employees in coverage. Finally, it would defund Planned Parenthood for one year while providing more money to community health centers.

A provision that would have repealed the health law’s Medicare cost-cutting board was removed from the package when the House adopted the rule governing floor debate (H.Res. 483). House Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) said the move was intended to preserve the reconciliation bill’s special fast-track status across the Capitol in response to feedback from the Senate parliamentarian.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the Senate plans to take up the legislation but the timing is unclear and it is expected to face hurdles. With a 54-vote majority, only three Republican senators can vote against the legislation for it to reach President Obama’s desk if Democrats and the chamber’s two independents all oppose it as expected. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), have already voiced opposition to the measure because it does not fully repeal the PPACA. That leaves no room for other Republicans to break ranks, including some who may be resistant because of the language targeting Planned Parenthood.