House votes to delay parts of health care law

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 9: House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) speaks during a press conference, on Capitol Hill, July 9, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Republican leadership discussed the immigration bill and the Obama administration's decision to delay a portion of the Affordable Care Act, which will extend the deadline for employer mandated health care to 2015. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer / File photo / Getty Images
Majority leader Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, said the vote 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.’’

WASHINGTON — House Republicans voted on Wednesday to delay core provisions of President 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 to 161, to delay by one year the so-called employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act. It voted 251 to 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 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.

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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 it 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.

‘‘This administration cannot make its own law work,’’ Representative Dave Camp, Republican of Michigan, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said during House debate.

Majority leader Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, 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.’’


Eager to counter the criticism, Obama plans to deliver remarks Thursday focusing on rebates that consumers are receiving from insurance companies under the health care law.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama will draw attention to the 8.5 million consumers who have received an average consumer rebate of about $100. Carney also highlighted reports that some states are already anticipating lower premiums under the Affordable Care Act. ‘‘Competition and transparency in the marketplaces, plus the hard effort by those committed to making the law work, are leading to affordable, new, and better choices for families,’’ Carney said.

The House vote delaying the employer requirement codified the administration’s decision, but the White House insisted it was unnecessary and issued a tough veto threat. Democrats dismissed the entire GOP effort as just another fruitless attack on a law that has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

‘‘Well, here we go again. Another repeal vote, another political sideshow,’’ said Representative Sander Levin, Democrat of Michigan.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said it was ‘‘nothing more than a waste of time’’ as the health care issue has been settled in Congress, the courts, and in last year’s presidential election when Obama won a second term.