Bills would halt health law's employer mandate

"Instead of letting the federal government dictate how employers should allocate resources, let's repeal this job-killing mandate and let businesses get back in the business of hiring," Hatch said.

The employer mandate requires that companies of 50 or more workers provide health insurance or pay fines if more than 30 employees receive government assistance to buy coverage.

The health offerings must be affordable, and they must include a variety of "essential health benefits."

Since 2010, several major firms have threatened to cut employee hours over the requirement. Some, like the company that runs Olive Garden and Red Lobster, backtracked after intense criticism.

The Internal Revenue Service has already started to implement the rule in anticipation of next year, when penalties will begin.

Thursday's bill came from Hatch; Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderGOP governors confront Medicaid divide A guide to the committees: Senate Overnight Healthcare: Trump officials weigh fate of birth control mandate | House, DOJ seek delay in ObamaCare lawsuit MORE (R-Tenn.); and Reps. Charles BoustanyCharles BoustanyYoga lobby fighting certification for teachers Ill. rep named new chairman for House tax-policy subcommittee Clay Higgins wins La. House seat MORE (R-La.), Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and John BarrowJohn BarrowDem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel Barrow thanks staff in farewell speech The best and the worst of the midterms MORE (D-Ga.).