House fails to knock down Obama veto of anti-Obamacare bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday failed to override President Barack Obama’s veto of legislation that would have dismantled his signature healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act.

A boy waits in line at a health insurance enrollment event in Cudahy, California March 27, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

At least a two-thirds vote of the House was needed to knock down Obama’s veto; the Republican-majority House fell short by more than three dozen votes. The vote was 241-186, and ends consideration of the bill; the Senate will not take it up.

The widely expected outcome was the latest chapter in the lengthy clash between Republicans and Democrats over the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”

Republicans have been vowing to gut the law since 2010, when the then Democratic-majority Congress passed the landmark program designed to provide healthcare for millions of uninsured Americans.

The House has voted to dismantle Obamacare dozens of times, but Republicans could not get a repeal through the Senate until late last year, when they used a procedural maneuver denying Democrats’ ability to block the legislation.

Obama vetoed the bill last month; it was the eighth veto of his presidency, and none have been overridden.

Republicans were anxious to show they had done everything they could to take down Obamacare, which they say has raised insurance costs and reduced health care choices. They said Tuesday that this was not the end of the story.

“The end of Obamacare is coming,” predicted Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “When a Republican president takes office next year, we know we can get this passed ... Obamacare can be gone once and for all.”

Such a scenario assumes, however, that the Republicans capture the White House in November elections, and maintain their majorities in the Senate and House as well.

Democrats mocked Republicans, saying they were proposing to deprive millions of their health insurance without a replacement. About 11.3 Americans have signed up this year for insurance on the Obamacare exchanges.

“While we have voted as of today 63 times to dismantle it, how many times have we voted to replace it? Zero! Zero times to replace it!” declared Representative Chris van Hollen, a Democrat.

The bill also would have taken funds away from Planned Parenthood, another target of Republican criticism after undercover videos showed the women’s healthcare provider discussing the use of fetus parts for research.

Two anti-abortion activists behind the filming of the videos were indicted by a Texas grand jury last month, while the jury cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.

Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Andrew Hay