- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2015

House Republicans will kick off February with a vote to repeal Obamacare, giving new members the chance to record their opposition to the law while the party pursues its own health plan.

“We will begin the month renewing our commitment to individual freedom and opportunity,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said Thursday in a memo to the GOP caucus.

Republicans have voted dozens of times to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act since its passage in 2010, but this will be the first full-scale repeal vote of the new Congress.

The bill also directs relevant committees to work up GOP-driven health reforms that could replace Obamacare after repeal.

The latest bid for full repeal is sponsored by Rep. Bradley Byrne, Alabama Republican, and sets the table for Senate Republicans, now in the majority, to follow suit, although they’re unlikely to find 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster and force President Obama to veto their efforts.

Congressional Republicans had been focusing on more limited swipes at Obamacare.

The House voted to redefine full-time work under the law from 30 hours per week to 40, and it exempted veterans from the law’s insurance mandate on businesses with the hope that employers will hire more ex-servicemen and women.

On Thursday, top Senate Republicans introduced a bill to scrap the mandate outright, saying companies that employ 50 or more workers should not be forced to pay for health coverage or face debilitating fines.

“Obamacare’s burdensome employer mandate continues to hinder job-creation and growth, and the best action Washington can take is to repeal it entirely,” said Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican.

Congressional Republicans also want to repeal Obamacare’s tax on medical device makers. Several Democrats support that measure, too, because their states contain clusters of manufacturers that have complained about the tax.

The GOP has been unable to rally behind a comprehensive alternative to Obamacare to fulfill the second part of its repeal-and-replace strategy, although several proposals are floating around.

While Mr. Obama wields a veto until 2016, the Supreme Court is set to rule by June on a case that could invalidate many of Obamacare’s subsidies, blowing a hole in the law and giving the GOP daylight to swoop in with their plans.

Mr. McCarthy’s memo says the new repeal bill instructs the relevant House committees to “to develop our patient-centered health care reforms.”

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