As expected, President Obama vetoed legislation Friday that would have repealed Obamacare and defunded Planned Parenthood, saying the Affordable Care Act “is working.”
“Health care has changed for the better, setting this country on a smarter, stronger course,” Mr. Obama said in his veto message, arguing that the measure approved by Congress “would reverse that course.”
It was the eighth veto of Mr. Obama’s presidency, with five of them coming in his second term.
“This legislation would cost millions of hard-working middle-class families the security of affordable health coverage they deserve,” the president said. “Reliable health care coverage would no longer be a right for everyone: it would return to being a privilege for a few.”
Republican leaders in Congress acknowledge they don’t have the two-thirds votes required to override the veto.
Mr. Obama chastised lawmakers for having tried to “undermine” Obamacare more than 50 times.
“Rather than re-fighting old political battles by once again voting to repeal basic protections that provide security for the middle class, members of Congress should be working together to grow the economy, strengthen middle-class families, and create new jobs,” he said.
Speaker Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said the end of Obamacare is “just a matter of time.”
“This law will collapse under its own weight, or it will be repealed,” Mr. Ryan said. “We have now shown that there is a clear path to repealing Obamacare without 60 votes in the Senate. So, next year, if we’re sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law. Obamacare will be gone.”
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican, said Friday the House would vote to override Mr. Obama on Jan. 26 — the first full day that lawmakers are back in session after the Jan. 22 March for Life, an annual D.C. protest against abortion.
His Democratic counterpart, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, pledged to sustain the president’s veto and asked if Congress might see a GOP health care plan in the coming weeks or months.
Mr. Scalise didn’t give a direct reply, instead saying it is important for rank-and-file members to reach a consensus on “patient-centered” reforms to replace Obamacare.
He said leadership would not dictate a bill to members, as Mr. Ryan and his team embrace a bottom-up approach to running the people’s chamber.
“What’s exciting to our membership about this year is that the members are going to be able to participate in that process and the committees will involved in this,” Mr. Scalise said. “I can’t tell you what the committees will ultimately do or produce.”
• Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this article.