Senate Votes To Repeal Obamacare, Defund Planned Parenthood

Juliegrace Brufke | Capitol Hill Reporter

In a 52-47 vote, the Senate passed a fast-track measure Thursday designed to unravel key Obamacare provisions and defund Planned Parenthood for one year.

The budgetary tool known as reconciliation prevented the possibility of a filibuster and only required 51 votes to pass the upper chamber, but allowed for members of both parties to add an unlimited number of amendments.

A number amendments attached by Democrats, including a series of anti-gun measures and a provision allowing the controversial women’s health organization to keep its federal funding in place were tabled by a majority vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell struggled to gain the support needed to push the measure through, with conservatives arguing it didn’t go far enough to completely dismantle the Affordable Care Act and moderates expressing concern over the provision defunding Planned Parenthood.

Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Marco Rubio, who initial didn’t support the measure since it didn’t fully repeal the law, were swayed into supporting the measure.

“The vote we took today is a significant step towards repealing every word of Obamacare,” Cruz said in a statement following its passage. “This bill repeals as much of that failed law as we can under arcane Senate rules and the narrow guidelines of the budget.”

Republican Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine strayed from their party and voted against the legislation. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders was absent for the vote.

The legislation would repeal the individual and employer mandates, Cadillac tax, medical device tax, and eliminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board. It would also put an end to the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.

The House passed its version of the bill largely along party lines in October, and will need to pass a version compatible with the Senate legislation. If the reconciled legislation passes the lower chamber, it will be the first time Congress has successful sent a bill to dismantle the landmark heath-care legislation to the president’s desk.

President Obama reiterated his promise to veto the bill. Minority Leader Harry Reid said Republicans are “obsessed” with its repeal and need to stop “haranguing” over the issue.

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