The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday on party lines to begin repealing the Affordable Care Act — commonly referred to as Obamacare — on a slim 51-48 margin.
In order to avoid a filibuster from Democratic senators, Republicans initiated the repeal process through a process known as budget reconciliation. Normally, a bill needs 60 votes from the senate floor to begin debate (cloture), but if a piece of legislation is proposed through budget negotiations, all it needs to pass is a simple 51-vote majority.
As NPR explained, the budget resolution allows for the full repeal of all government subsidies provided for low-income and middle-class families to purchase private health insurance, along with the repeal of all taxes levied to pay for those subsidies.
“Today, we take the first steps to repair the nation’s broken health care system, removing Washington from the equation and putting control back where it belongs: with patients, their families, and their doctors,” stated Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), who proposed the resolution. In his summary of the repeal resolution, Enzi laid out the exact strategy by which Republicans will seek to dismantle President Obama’s signature healthcare law during Donald Trump’s first 100 days as president:
“The resolution provides reconciliation instructions to four authorizing committees – Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce in the House, Finance and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in the Senate – to achieve at least $1 billion each in deficit reduction over 10 years… authorizing committees to report legislation to their Budget Committee by January 27, 2017. The legislation will be combined for consideration on the floors of the respective Chambers.”
The date of the timeline the resolution gave the House to propose a repeal bill is conspicuous, in that it’s one week after Donald Trump is officially inaugurated. This would provide certainty to Republicans that Obama would be powerless to stop it.
Watch the vote of the resolution’s vote below, and read the full text of the repeal resolution here.
Zach Cartwright is an activist and author from Richmond, Virginia. He enjoys writing about politics, government, and the media. Follow his work on the Public Banking Institute blog.