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Obama Vetoes Package Targeting Affordable Care Act, Planned Parenthood

By Melissa Attias, CQ Roll Call

January 8, 2016 -- President Barack Obama on Friday vetoed legislation that would dismantle the pillars of his signature health care law and restrict federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year, sending the measure back to Congress where an override attempt is certain to come up short.

The widely anticipated veto marks the eighth of Obama's presidency and comes just days before his final State of the Union address on Jan. 12 that's likely to tout the health overhaul's benefits.

"This legislation would not only repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, but would reverse the significant progress we have made in improving health care in America," Obama said in a veto message.

Obama noted that Republicans have attempted to repeal or undercut parts of the health care law more than 50 times.

The House agreed later Friday to vote on the veto override on Jan. 26, though Republicans lack the needed two-thirds majority to overturn it. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California released a statement Thursday asserting that House Democrats are ready to sustain Obama's veto.

Still, Republicans have touted the act of finally sending legislation (HR 3762) that would undo much of the overhaul to Obama's desk as the fulfillment of a campaign promise and a preview of what could be accomplished if they sweep Congress and the White House in the 2016 elections.

"The idea that Obamacare is the law of the land for a long time is a myth," Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., said at an enrollment ceremony Thursday surrounded by applauding GOP lawmakers. "We will see this law either collapse under its own weight, or we will see this law in the next session of Congress, as we are proving here today, be repealed and signed and replaced by a Republican president."

The largely party-line votes on the legislation show how divisive the health law continues to be nearly six years after its enactment.

Republicans moved the package through the budget reconciliation process, which allows the Senate to advance legislation with a simple majority rather than the usual 60-vote threshold required to overcome a filibuster. Democrats used the same mechanism to help enact the health care law in 2010 after losing their 60-vote Senate majority.

The overhaul established subsidies for low- and middle-income Americans to help purchase health coverage through new insurance exchanges and expanded the Medicaid program—both of which the vetoed legislation would undo in 2018. The law also requires most individuals to buy coverage and large employers to offer to their workers, but the GOP legislation would remove the penalties for enforcement.

A lengthy list of taxes used to help offset the cost of the overhaul's coverage expansion, including taxes on "Cadillac" employer-sponsored health plans, medical devices and health insurers, would also be repealed under the vetoed measure.

In addition, the bill would stop most federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year and increase money for community health centers.

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