House advances bill to end ObamaCare's 30-hour workweek

The House on Wednesday advanced legislation that would eliminate language in ObamaCare that Republicans say is forcing millions of workers to accept fewer hours and smaller paychecks.

In a 236-186 vote, members approved a rule governing debate on the Save American Workers Act, H.R. 2575. Seven Democrats voted for the rule.

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The bill would eliminate language in the Affordable Care Act that defines full-time workers as working more than 30 hours a week. That definition is important because ObamaCare says companies with more than 50 full-time workers must offer them health insurance.

Republicans have said those two provisions create an incentive for companies to cut worker hours to less than 30 per week, to stay below the threshold.

"The bill fundamentally changed the labor law in this country, creating a new standard called the 30-hour workweek," Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) said of ObamaCare.

"As a result, worker hours are being cut, productivity in this country ... will decrease over time," he said. "This is what an onerous government regulation can and will do: suppress innovation and disadvantage our businesses."

While Democrats rejected the bill as the 52nd House vote to undermine ObamaCare, Burgess said the bill is a narrow tweak to the law and is not aimed at reducing healthcare coverage. "It is a fix, a fix to a fatal flaw contained within the law," he said.

But Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) cited a Congressional Budget Office analysis that said the bill would increase the deficit and result in lost health insurance coverage.

"This legislation would increase the deficit by $74 billion and force 1 million people to lose their sponsored healthcare coverage and increase the number of uninsured," she said. "It is not true that under this piece of legislation no one would lose their healthcare."

On Tuesday, the White House threatened to veto the bill and cited the CBO's analysis as a major reason for its opposition.

The rule passed by the House today calls for up to three hours of debate on the legislation, which will start Wednesday afternoon. However, only some of the debate is expected then; the rest will take place on Thursday.