House passes first ObamaCare bill of year

The House passed legislation Tuesday to exempt veterans who have health insurance through the Defense or Veterans Affairs departments from ObamaCare's employer mandate.

Members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the measure, the first House bill on the floor in the new Congress, by 412-0.

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The bill marks the first ObamaCare-related vote of the new Congress, after more than 50 in the last four years. Another measure to make changes to the law is slated for floor consideration this week. It would establish 40 hours as a full-time workweek under the healthcare law instead of 30. The vote for that bill is more likely to fall along party lines, however. 

The 2010 healthcare overhaul requires employers with 50 or more full-time workers to provide insurance. Lawmakers argued that exempting veterans who already have health insurance would provide a hiring incentive for businesses.

"It just makes sense that these individuals who already have great medical coverage would not have to count toward the numbers of employees that would trigger the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act," said Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardHawaii GOP chairman denounces Republican challenging Tulsi Gabbard Sanders supporter Tulsi Gabbard will vote for Clinton Sanders gives blessing as Dems nominate Clinton MORE (D-Hawaii), an Iraq War combat veteran.

Incoming House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul RyanLew: TPP vote still possible in lame duck Webster wins primary in new district House Freedom Caucus should support justice reform this fall MORE (R-Wis.) said the existing statute was redundant and possibly limited opportunities for veterans trying to find jobs after serving overseas.

"Businesses have an incentive to turn away veterans, not because they don't want to hire them but because it's too expensive to hire them. This is serving as a penalty to hiring our nation's veterans," Ryan said.

The same bill passed by a vote of 406-1 in the House last year, but it went nowhere in the Senate.