House OKs compromise GOP budget targeting health law
Washington — The U.S. House adopted a budget plan that would allow congressional Republicans to bypass Democrats and send President Barack Obama a bill to repeal his landmark health-care law.
The House adopted the budget measure 226-197 Thursday, and the Senate plans to vote on it next week. It would enable Congress to pass Obamacare legislation later as a separate proposal. The president has said repeatedly that he would veto any proposal to gut or repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
The budget proposal spells out the Republican Party's priorities by calling for $5.3 trillion in spending cuts to reach balance in nine years. Most of the reductions, $4.1 trillion, would come from programs including entitlements like Medicare. The plan would use a reserve fund to increase military spending.
"America needs real growth, and that means real pro-growth policies to fix the tax code, expand American energy production, and solve our spending problem," House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said at a news conference earlier Thursday. "All of those things are in this balanced budget."
A key aspect of the measure would give Republicans a vehicle to go after Obama's Affordable Care Act, which his administration said has extended coverage to 16.4 million previously uninsured Americans.
The budget agreement would let Republicans use a process called reconciliation to send Obamacare legislation to the president without needing Democratic votes. While the House has voted more than 50 times to delay or repeal Obamacare, Democrats controlled the Senate until January and still have the power as the minority party to block most legislation.
House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, a Georgia Republican, said his party is committed to sending legislation to repeal the health-care law to Obama's desk.
"Reconciliation is a very powerful tool," he said.
A policy statement contained in the deal said the health care law "is unaffordable, intrusive, overreaching, destructive and unworkable" and "should be fully repealed."
Democrats would have the votes to keep Congress from overriding a presidential veto of repeal legislation.
The budget measure is a non-binding framework for spending bills to be passed later. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said Wednesday that his party would block spending bills based on the proposal.
"If Republicans insist on moving appropriations bill based on that budget, it is a waste of time," Reid said. "It will not happen."
Democrats want tax increases for wealthier Americans and on companies that park their profits overseas.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, told reporters Thursday the budget plan was "entirely inadequate to meet hardworking Americans' needs."
The unified budget, S.Con.Res. 11, uses emergency war funds to evade a limit on defense spending while keeping in place caps on domestic programs.
The measure would limit discretionary spending in 2016 to $1.016 trillion, while war funding would total $96 billion, far above Obama's request. The plan allows total spending of $3.9 trillion in 2016, with a $400 billion deficit.
The House and Senate adopted their own versions of the budget plan last month and conferees worked out the differences.
A budget document is typically little more than an aspirational framework for spending. The appropriations bills due at the Oct. 1 start of each fiscal year set the actual spending details for agencies and government functions.
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