(Bloomberg) — The Republican-led U.S. House voted to postpone two significant provisions of the Affordable Care Act Wednesday.
The measures aren’t expected to advance in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Since its enactment in 2010, the House has voted 37 times to repeal or defund at least part of the ACA, including three times to annul the entire measure.
Yesterday, the House voted on a delay in enforcement of the employer and individual mandates. One bill, H.R. 2667, passed 264-161 and would postpone until 2015 the requirement that U.S. businesses with 50 or more workers provide their employees with health insurance. It’s meant to codify the Obama administration’s decision to delay the employer mandate for a year until 2015.
By a separate vote of 251-174, the House passed H.R. 2668, which would delay by a year the requirement that most Americans have health insurance by 2014 or pay a fine. The administration hasn’t sought to postpone that provision.
“This is about basic fairness,” House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told reporters in Washington yesterday. “To say that while we’re going to relax this mandate for a year on American business but we’re going to continue to stick it to individuals and families is strictly and simply unfair to the American people.”
After the House vote, Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, to take up the legislation.
“It is pointless pandering,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat.
The measures are intended to bolster lawmakers’ talking points for the five-week congressional recess that starts in August. Republicans ran against the ACA in the 2010 midterm elections, which helped them win a majority in the House.
The two bills attracted support from some House Democrats; 35 voted with Republicans to delay the employer mandate and 22 voted to postpone the individual mandate. One Republican, Morgan Griffith of Virginia, voted against both bills.
The administration announced July 2 that it would delay the employer mandate until 2015. House Republicans have scheduled three committee hearings this week on the ACA.
The White House has threatened a veto of both Republican bills. The measure to delay the employer mandate is “unnecessary,” and legislation postponing the individual requirement “would raise health insurance premiums and increase the number of uninsured Americans,” according to a statement of administration policy by the Office of Management and Budget.
Taken together, the two bills would “cost millions of hard-working middle-class families the security of affordable health coverage and care they deserve,” according to the OMB statement.
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