WASHINGTON - Republicans said it was time to end "the pain and hurt" of President Obama's health-care overhaul as they pushed Wednesday toward Senate passage of legislation dismantling that law and blocking Planned Parenthood's federal funds. To no one's surprise, the White House promised that Obama would veto the bill.
After weeks of strategizing, GOP leaders began rolling out a measure they said would attract the votes needed for approval by week's end. To achieve that, they included provisions that marked victories for some of the most conservative GOP senators balanced with concessions for more moderate Republicans facing competitive 2016 reelections.
Facing a certain veto and solid Democratic opposition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) tauntingly suggested they reconsider.
"This is their chance, and President Obama's chance, to begin to make amends for the pain and hurt they've caused" by the law, which Republicans blame for rising health-care costs.
In a letter to lawmakers pledging a veto, the White House accused Republicans of "refighting old political battles," a reference to the dozens of previous votes the GOP-led Congress has taken to repeal all or parts of the law. The letter said the bill "would roll back coverage gains and would cost millions of hardworking families the security of affordable health coverage they deserve."
"Far too many Republicans have doubled down on a favorite pastime - attacking women's health and rights in order to pander to their extreme base," added Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.), about the measure's deletion of Planned Parenthood's federal money.
The GOP says a veto will only help its presidential and congressional candidates by underscoring that Republican control of the White House and Congress could spell the end of the law they derisively label "Obamacare" and would imperil Planned Parenthood's federal dollars.
Pleasing conservatives, the measure would all but kill the 2010 Affordable Care Act, effectively ending its requirements that individuals obtain health insurance and that large companies offer coverage to workers by erasing the financial penalties enforcing those obligations. The bill would also repeal the law's expanded Medicaid coverage for lower-income people and its federal subsidies for those buying policies in insurance marketplaces, while repealing tax increases on items including medical devices.