- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 7, 2016

Flanked by dozens of his GOP troops, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Thursday signed the first-ever Obamacare repeal bill that will make it to the White House.

“It has been a long time in getting here, but here we are,” Mr. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said in the ornate Rayburn Room near the House chamber.

The fast-track budget bill phases out Obamacare’s main benefits and repeals its most unpopular mandates, including the one requiring Americans to hold insurance or pay a tax.

It also defunds Planned Parenthood for one year as punishment for its abortion practice and handling of harvested fetal tissue.

The bill passed, 240-181, on Wednesday, after the Senate acted in early December, meaning it will head to President Obama’s desk.

The White House has vowed a veto, saying Thursday that Congress had achieved “nothing.”

Yet the GOP’s signing ceremony had a pep rally-like atmosphere, with some House Republicans arriving early enough to get a prime spot in front of the cameras.

Mr. Ryan said he doesn’t expect the president to sign a bill that scraps his namesake law, although the effort outlines a “clear choice” for voters who want to see changes in 2017.

The notion that Obamacare will be the law of the land for a long time is a “myth,” he said, arguing it will either collapse under its own weight or be repealed in the next session under a Republican president.

Mr. Ryan signed the bill and handed his pen to House Budget Chairman Tom Price, Georgia Republican who shepherded the bill through a process known as reconciliation.

The process allowed the GOP-controlled Congress to approve a revenue-related bill that can pass on a majority vote in the Senate, avoiding the type of Democratic opposition that doomed every prior effort at repeal.

Mr. Ryan has pledged to unveil an Obamacare replacement this year, although Democrats are skeptical.

The office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday blasted out a list of 20 times, stretching back to 2009, that Republicans have said “a so-called replacement was imminent.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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