House plans five-hour debate on healthcare repeal; WH warns veto

The House will hold five hours of debate on Tuesday and Wednesday on legislation that would completely repeal the 2010 healthcare law, which is being called up by Republicans in light of the Supreme Court's decision that the individual health insurance mandate is constitutional.

The House Rules Committee approved a rule late Monday setting out the lengthy debate on a bill that is expected to pass with Republican support, but very little, if any, Democratic support. The Repeal of Obamacare Act, H.R. 6079, was formally introduced by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Monday.

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Later Monday evening, the White House put out a statement saying President Obama would veto the bill if it were presented for his signature, something that won't happen given Senate opposition.

"The administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 6079 because it would cost millions of hardworking middle-class families the security of affordable health coverage and care they deserve," the statement said. "It would increase the deficit and detract from the work the Congress needs to do to focus on the economy and create jobs.

"The last thing the Congress should do is refight old political battles and take a massive step backward by repealing basic protections that provide security for the middle class," it added. "Right now, the Congress needs to work together to focus on the economy and creating jobs. Congress should act on the president's concrete plans to create an economy built to last by reducing the deficit in a balanced way and investing in education, clean energy, innovation and infrastructure.

"If the president were presented with H.R. 6079, he would veto it."

Under the rule for the House bill, the House committees on Education and the Workforce, Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means will each control one hour of debate. House committees on Budget, Judiciary and Small Business will each control 30 minutes.

Finally, House Majority Leader Cantor and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and/or their designees will split the last 30 minutes of debate time.

The House is expected to start work on the bill by debating and approving the rule, which will take an hour early Tuesday afternoon. A final vote on passage on the bill itself is expected Wednesday.

— This story was updated at 8:39 p.m. to add the White House veto threat.

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