House takes first step to repeal ObamaCare

House takes first step to repeal ObamaCare
 
The House on Friday voted to begin the process of repealing ObamaCare, despite defections from some Republicans wary of rushing ahead without a plan to replace the law.
 
Lawmakers voted largely along party lines, 227-198, to approve a budget resolution that’s serving as a vehicle to unwind the healthcare law.
 
Nine Republicans from the conservative and centrist wings of the party joined with all Democrats to oppose the measure.
 
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House Republicans can only lose 23 of their members and still pass legislation on their own. Earlier in the week, enough Republicans were on the fence about supporting the budget that the whip count appeared in question.
 
 
But GOP leaders managed to limit defections to ensure the budget resolution passed as Congress prepares for the new Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump Right way and wrong way Five things to know about the elephant trophies controversy MORE administration.
 
Even so, the defections in Friday’s vote were more than double the number of Republicans who voted against repealing ObamaCare last year. Just three centrist Republicans joined Democrats in opposition last year, two of whom no longer serve in Congress.
 
The nine Republicans who voted against the budget resolution were Reps. Justin AmashJustin AmashThe 13 House Republicans who voted against the GOP tax plan House Judiciary advances warrantless wiretapping reform bill The Hill's Whip List: Where Republicans stand on tax-reform bill MORE (Mich.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Walter Jones (N.C.), John Katko (N.Y.), Raul Labrador (Idaho), Tom MacArthur (N.J.), Thomas Massie (Ky.) and Tom McClintock (Calif.).

The more than 60 votes taken in the GOP-controlled House over the last six years to undermine the healthcare law were almost always along party lines. But Friday was the first time the measure wasn’t just a show vote destined to go nowhere. 

GOP leaders are using a budget as a vehicle to repeal the healthcare law because they can take advantage of a procedure that requires only a simple majority to pass it. That way, they can circumvent a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, where they’d otherwise need 60 votes to pass legislation repealing the law.
 
In addition to concerns about the budget’s spending levels, Republicans are now wary of repealing the law they’ve railed against for seven years without having a strategy to replace it. 
 
“They’ve had the luxury of saying we’re going to do a better job without telling us what the better job entails,” said Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. 
 
Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDem: Ex-lawmaker tried to pin me to elevator door and kiss me Two months later: Puerto Rico doesn’t have power, education or economy running again On Capitol Hill, few name names on sexual harassment MORE (R-Wis.) said this week that Republicans will hash out a strategy to replace the law at the joint House-Senate GOP retreat in Philadelphia the week after the inauguration. 
 
“This is a critical first step toward delivering relief to Americans who are struggling under this law,” Ryan said during House floor debate on Friday. 
 
Already, some Republicans are skeptical they’ll be able to convince any Senate Democrats to help them replace the law. Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate and would need at least eight Democrats to help pass a healthcare alternative. 
 
“They have said they have no desire to help,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the new Freedom Caucus chairman, told The Hill on the eve of Friday’s vote. “In that context, a replacement vote in the Senate is likely to fail.”
 
Ryan, echoing comments from President-elect Donald Trump, said Republicans plan to repeal and replace the law “at the same time.” But he declined to offer a specific date for when that would happen, saying only the goal is within Trump’s first 100 days in office through the end of April. 
 
“We want to do this at the same time, and in some cases in the same bill,” Ryan said Thursday night at a CNN town hall.
 
- Updated at 3:43 p.m.