WASHINGTON — The Republican-led House voted on Wednesday to delay core provisions of President Barack Obama's health care law, emboldened by the administration's concession that requiring companies to provide coverage for their workers next year may be too complicated.
After a day of heated rhetoric, the House voted largely along party lines, 264-161, to delay by one year the so-called employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act. It voted 251-174 to extend a similar grace period to virtually all Americans who will be required to obtain coverage beginning Jan. 1, the linchpin of the law.
The dual political-show votes marked the 38th time the GOP majority has tried to eliminate, defund or scale back the unpopular law since Republicans took control of the House in January 2011. The House legislation stands no chance in the Democratic-run Senate.
The goal of the health care law is to provide coverage to nearly 50 million Americans without health insurance and lower skyrocketing costs. But in the three years since Obama signed his signature law, the public remains highly skeptical and the administration's abrupt decision earlier this month to delay the employer provision only fueled more doubts.
Republican foes welcomed the deferment as a political gift, not only to assail Obama but to arrange votes that put House Democrats on record ahead of next year's congressional elections. In fact, on the employer mandate, 35 Democrats broke with party leaders and joined Republicans in backing the delay. Twenty-two Democrats supported a postponement of the health care requirement for individuals.
"This administration cannot make its own law work," said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, during House debate.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the decision was "a clear signal that even the administration doesn't believe the country is ready to sustain the painful economic impact this law will have."