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House OKs Republican Health Bill, a Step Toward Obamacare Repeal

  • House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. greets guests as he walks to the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 4, 2017. The Republican health care bill, a top-flight priority the party nearly left for dead six weeks ago, headed toward a House showdown vote. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)



Associated Press
Thursday, May 04, 2017

Washington — Relieved Republicans muscled their health care bill through the House today, taking their biggest step toward dismantling the Obama health care overhaul since Donald Trump took office. They won passage only after overcoming their own divisions that nearly sank the measure six weeks ago.

Beaten but unbowed, Democrats insisted Republicans will pay at election time for repealing major provisions of the law. They sang the pop song “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” to the GOP lawmakers as the end of the voting neared.

The measure skirted through the House by a thin 217-213 vote, as all voting Democrats and 20 mostly moderate Republican holdouts voted no. A defeat would have been politically devastating for President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Passage was a product of heavy lobbying by the White House and Republicans leaders, plus late revisions that nailed down the final supporters needed. Leaders rallied rank-and-file lawmakers at a closed-door meeting early this morning by playing “Eye of the Tiger,” the rousing 1980s song from the “Rocky III” film.

“Many of us are here because we pledged to cast this very vote,” Ryan said. He added, “Are we going to keep the promises that we made, or are we going to falter?”

The bill now faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, where even GOP lawmakers say major changes are likely. In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the House vote “an important step” to repealing Obama’s law and said, “Congress will continue to act on legislation to provide more choices and freedom in health care decisions.”

Republicans have promised to erase President Barack Obama’s law since its 2010 enactment, but this year — with Trump in the White House and in full control of Congress — is their first real chance to deliver. But polls have shown a public distaste for the repeal effort and a gain in popularity for Obama’s statute, and Democrats — solidly opposing the bill — said Republicans would pay a price in next year’s congressional elections.