Republicans pushed legislation toward House passage on Friday that would erase key components of the Affordable Care Act, block federal payments to Planned Parenthood and face a certain veto from President Barack Obama—should it ever reach him.
The bill aims squarely at two favorite targets of conservatives. And though they know a veto awaits the measure should it reach the White House, they say that would help them sharpen political differences with Democrats for next year's elections.
"This is our best opportunity to date to put the bill on the president's desk and show the American people where his priorities lie," said Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.).
Democrats called the debate a political charade and a waste of time, saying the House has voted 61 times to repeal all or part of Obama's prized health overhaul since the GOP took control of the chamber in 2011.
"This is a hyper-partisan document that is just talking points for extremists," said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.).
Republicans wrapped the legislation in a procedure that would shield it from a Democratic Senate filibuster—meaning it will need only 51 votes to pass that chamber. Filibusters, or procedural delays aimed at killing legislation, take 60 votes to halt and there are just 54 GOP senators.
But even attaining a simple Senate majority for the measure may be tough for Republicans. The bill faces potential opposition there from moderate Republicans concerned it goes too far and GOP senators running for president saying it doesn't go far enough.
In a statement promising Obama's veto, the White House said the GOP measure "would take away critical benefits and healthcare coverage from hard-working middle-class families."
The legislation would eliminate the health law's requirements that most people who don't have employer-provided health coverage buy individual policies, and that most companies provide medical insurance. It would also eliminate the statute's taxes on medical devices and high-priced insurance policies.
It also prevents Planned Parenthood from getting federal money for a year—the GOP reaction to secretly recorded tapes that showed the group's officials describing how they sometimes provide researchers with tissue from aborted fetuses.