Despite a veto threat from the White House, the House of Representatives yesterday approved legislation to delay ObamaCare’s employer mandate and individual mandate.
The Treasury Department announced earlier this month that it would delay employer mandate penalties and reporting requirements until 2015. House Republicans have seized on this because it is an admission by the administration that the ObamaCare’s mandates are unworkable for businesses.
They also, however, note that any delay would have to be approved by Congress because the statutory effective date for the mandate is January 1, 2014. Basically, it’s illegal for the Obama Administration to unilaterally delay the mandate. But instead of acknowleding that congressional action is necessary, House Democrats spent the entire debate criticizing Republicans.
The Authority for Mandate Delay Act, sponsored by Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR), passed by a vote of 264 to 161. Thirty-five Democrats voted in favor of the measure while only one Republican voted against it.
Moments later, the House approved the Fairness for American Families Act, sponsored by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN). This legislation would, for one year, delay the individual mandate, which is one of the most controversial parts of ObamaCare.
Striking a strong populist tone, House Republicans frequently noted during debate that it’s unfair to delay only the employer mandate while leaving hardworking Americans who may not be able to afford health insurance coverage exposed to the individual mandate tax.
The measure passed by a vote of 251 to 174, though only 22 Democrats joined the majority this time around.
Shortly after passage, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) urged the Senate to act on both pieces of legislation, repeating the call for fairness for American families.
“The president’s health care law is a job-killing train wreck that is already hurting America’s economy. Earlier this month, President Obama admitted as much by unilaterally delaying the employer mandate of his signature law,” said Boehner in a statement. “[T]he House has acted to authorize the president’s delay and to provide a similar delay for the rest of America. This is about fairness. If the president’s going to give relief to businesses, he ought to give relief from these harsh mandates to families and individuals, too.
“To protect the president’s unpopular, unworkable health care law, they will stand with big business and big government against fairness for individuals and families. Protecting big business from the president’s health care law but denying the same relief to individuals and families is unfair and indefensible,” he added. “I urge Senator Reid to schedule these fairness measures for immediate consideration by the Senate.”
In their own statement, Senate Republican leaders — including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), and Conference Chairman John Thune (R-SD) — also called on Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to bring the measures to the floor for a vote.
“The president has now acknowledged that a significant component of his health care law is broken and has delayed enforcement of ObamaCare’s employer mandate,” said the leaders,” said Republican leaders. “We applaud the House of Representatives’ action…to ensure that all Americans are protected from ObamaCare’s costly mandates and we call on the Majority Leader to bring this legislation to the Senate floor for a vote.”
The individual mandate delay is dead in the Senate, there is just no chance of it passing unless numbers change after next year’s mid-term. But whether it’s because they don’t want to give Republicans a political victory by going along with measure to codify the employer mandate delay or they don’t see the need for legislative action, Senate Democrats are unlikely to bring it to the floor for a vote.