With the support of nearly 50 Democrats, the House passed legislation Thursday to repeal the medical device tax—a much-despised part of Obamacare.
The bill came to the floor as Capitol Hill anxiously awaits the decision in a Supreme Court case that could potentially change the future of Obamacare. Lawmakers are using that extra adrenaline to put their energy into the war on words regarding Obamacare's success or failure.
Most likely, this bill just makes a statement about the law itself.
"This tax is a prime example of Obamacare's flawed priorities," wrote House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan in a statement released shortly after the vote.
The White House has threatened to veto the bill, but that didn't stop 46 Democrats from joining with the GOP majority to pass it, 280-140.
Republicans aren't giving up hope of it being signed into law—perhaps in the future as part of a bill in response if the Supreme Court limits Obamacare's federal subsidies in the King v. Burwell case.
"We consider it to be one of the flaws in the Affordable Care Act, which there is bipartisan opposition to. It's unnecessary, it's expensive, it increases the cost of health care, and so we think it has a good chance at actually being signed by the president," said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, in an interview.
"So far, it's his advisers who recommended a veto," Smith added. "The president himself has not expressed a personal opinion, so we think it's still possible that it could be enacted."
(The standard language of a White House veto threat states that the president's advisers would recommend the president veto the legislation should it reach his desk.)
"H.R. 160 would increase the deficit to finance a permanent and costly tax break for industry without improving the health system or helping middle-class Americans," the White House statement said about the bill.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caitlin Owens is a health care reporter at National Journal. Her work has previously appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.