The House of Representatives voted this evening not only to delay the employer mandate by one year, but also to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate by one year as well.
"This is about basic fairness," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said during a news conference Wednesday. "If the president believes that the employer mandate is too much for the employer community, how about basic fairness for American families and individuals?"
The vote on the employer mandate delay passed 264-161. Thirty-five Democrats joined 229 Republicans in support for the bill. One Republican voted against the measure.
While the Obama administration announced early this month that it would delay implementation of the employer mandate by one year, Republicans said they wanted to take the vote because they believed the president does not have the unilateral authority to delay implementation of a bill passed by Congress that he signed into law.
"I get to look at the Constitution once in a while. The Constitution makes it clear that Congress writes the law, and the president takes the oath of office to faithfully discharge the laws that are on the books," Boehner said. "The idea that the president can merely go out there and make a decision about what he's going to enforce and he isn't going to enforce is fundamentally wrong."
The vote to delay the individual mandate passed 251-174. Twenty-two Democrats supported the effort in addition to 229 Republicans. Just one Republican voted to oppose the measure, along with 173 Democrats.
Republicans believed that by forcing a vote to delay the individual mandate, Democrats were boxed in politically. If they support the president's delay of the employer mandate, how could they explain to constituents over the summer recess a vote against a delay for families and individuals over the summer recess? Thirteen Democrats will be in that position over the summer recess.
"Why is it that working Americans have to suffer the financial burdens of an overreaching government-run health care system while the same consequences for big business are delayed a year?" House Majority Leader Eric Cantor asked during a floor speech leading up to the vote. "The White House won't offer an answer to that, because I believe they've run out of excuses, they've run out of ideas, and now they are starting to back-peddle."
Democrats complained that Republicans are wasting time with legislation that is unlikely to advance in the Senate, much less get signed into law.
"My Republican colleagues have set out on an extreme mission, this time to re-argue a bill that has already helped millions of Americans," Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said. "Instead of playing political games with legislation that they know is going nowhere, let's pass a jobs bill and do the work we were sent here to do."
The House has voted three times on full repeal of the health care law, and now 39 times in total to disrupt, defund or dismantle it. Republicans note that seven of those efforts have been successful so far and signed into law, claiming their efforts have saved taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.