Protecting his signature domestic achievement, President Obama on Friday vetoed Republican-inspired legislation to repeal his healthcare law, saying to do so “would reverse the significant progress we have made in improving healthcare in America.”
Republican lawmakers have pushed many repeal measures since 2010, when Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. This bill was the first one to make it through Congress and reach his desk.
Republicans have argued that the law is costly and doesn't work.
In his veto message to Congress, Obama disagreed. He said the Affordable Care Act includes fairer rules and stronger consumer protections “that have made healthcare coverage more affordable, more attainable and more patient-centered. And it is working.”
The veto was expected. But Republicans claimed victory nonetheless, arguing that they met two goals by finally passing a repeal bill: keeping a promise to voters in an election year, and showing that they are capable of repealing the law if a Republican wins November's presidential election. All the GOP presidential candidates support repealing Obamacare.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) predicted it will be “a matter of time” before the law is finally overturned.
“We have now shown that there is a clear path to repealing Obamacare without 60 votes in the Senate,” Ryan said. “So, next year, if we're sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law. Obamacare will be gone. ... It's just a matter of time.”
The bill would also cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
The Senate passed the measure last year under special rules that protected it from a Democratic filibuster, which takes at least 60 votes to cut off. The House passed it this week.
For maximum visibility, Republican leaders made the legislation their first major vote of 2016. Although they don't have the votes to override Obama's veto, they had hoped to schedule an override vote to coincide with the Jan. 22 March for Life in Washington, an annual antiabortion event marking the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.