President Obama formally threatened Wednesday to veto a bipartisan bill changing ObamaCare's definition of full-time work from 30 hours to 40 hours a week, arguing the measure would cause the shift to part-time work that it claims to fix.
"By moving the threshold to 40 hours, this legislation could cause the problem it claims to solve by greatly increasing the number of workers for whom employers may have an incentive to reduce hours to avoid the requirement."
The statement arrived one day after White House press secretary Josh Earnest indicated Obama's intention to veto the measure if it comes to his desk. The legislation — Republicans' first attack on the healthcare law this Congress — is expected to pass the House on Thursday and has wide support from industry groups.
The debate centers on ObamaCare's requirement that employers offer health insurance to their workers.
The law currently states that companies of 50 or more "full-time" employees — those who work 30 hours or more per week — must offer medical coverage. Republicans argue the standard should be changed to the typical 40 hours per week and that the current definition is prompting companies to cut workers' hours to avoid the mandate.
Supporters of the 30-hour standard say hour-cutting would be much more frequent if the 40-hour bill became law given the higher proportion of Americans who might be affected. The White House noted that the bill would add to the deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
A spokesman for House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul RyanSanders set for clash with Trump’s budget pick Is healthcare law really going into a ‘death spiral’? Trump hosts Hill leaders for ice breaker MORE (R-Wis.) blasted the veto threat and accused Obama of neglecting workers.
"There is bipartisan recognition that ObamaCare will reduce take-home pay, but the president is showing once again that protecting his law is a higher priority than protecting these workers' wages," said Brendan Buck in a statement.
— This post was updated at 12:04 p.m. to reflect Buck's statement.