Week ahead: House set to send ObamaCare repeal to White House

Congress revs back into action on Tuesday for the election-year session, starting with another vote this week to repeal ObamaCare.

The House returns Tuesday night for the first vote of 2016, which will be a simple quorum call to formally mark the start of the year’s session.

On Wednesday, the House will vote to undo the healthcare law and defund Planned Parenthood. But unlike the other 60-plus ObamaCare repeal votes since 2011, Wednesday’s vote will send the legislation to President Obama’s desk.

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Obama has said he will veto the Senate-passed measure, which was conducted under a budget process known as reconciliation that prevents a filibuster by the minority.

Republicans expect to hold votes attempting to override the president’s veto after Obama rejects the bill. But like other veto override attempts in this Congress, Republicans lack a two-thirds supermajority in either the House or Senate to force the president’s hand.

GOP leaders are trying to frame the inaugural 2016 vote to repeal ObamaCare as a way to set their agenda for the year ahead of their joint House-Senate policy retreat in Baltimore next week.

“House Republicans will immediately set a tone that represents a better path for our country by sending the president a bill that repeals Obamacare and defunds Planned Parenthood while providing additional funding for community health centers to ensure women continue to have access to quality care,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) office wrote in a Monday blog post.

Democrats, meanwhile, are dismissing the latest ObamaCare repeal vote.

“Here’s a New Year’s resolution Republicans should think about: quit attacking the health care of America’s women and working families,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The Senate won’t return into session until next Monday, a day before the president’s final State of the Union address. His last speech before Congress will come days after announcing executive actions to tighten the nation's gun laws, which Obama is expected to announce in the East Room Tuesday morning.

Senators are expected to conduct a procedural vote next Tuesday to advance GOP presidential contender Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulTrump flexes new digital muscle Republicans question Trump's trip to Scotland Hate TV customer service? So does your senator MORE’s (R-Ky.) bill to require an audit of the Federal Reserve, which is likely to fall short of the necessary 60 votes to proceed.

Regulatory process reform

Apart from ObamaCare repeal, the House has three other lower-profile bills on tap this week. One measure, known as the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act, would require each member of a class-action lawsuit to have suffered the same type of injury in order to be eligible for monetary compensation.

It also includes the text of legislation to enhance reporting requirements for people trying to seek compensation from employers for health problems caused by asbestos exposure. Proponents say the measure will help ensure no one can take advantage of the program, while opponents warn it would make it harder for people to file claims. The bill is expected to get a vote on Thursday or Friday.

Another bill, titled the Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act, would establish a bipartisan commission to review existing federal regulations and identify which ones should be abolished. The third measure would aim to limit special interest groups’ ability to push federal agencies to adopt regulations under pressure from litigation. 

Lydia Wheeler contributed.

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