|39 Dems Defect as House Passes 'Keep Your Health Plan' Bill|
|By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone) and JEFF ZELENY (@jeffzeleny)||Nov 15, 2013, 2:00 PM|
Thirty-nine House Democrats joined 222 Republicans to pass the "Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013," a bill to allow Americans to keep certain health care plans banned because of Obamacare.
The 261-to-157 vote was the largest sign of defection yet for President Obama on his signature legislative achievement.
Many of the Democrats who supported the bill, sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., are in highly competitive districts and were eager to cast a vote in support of fixing the troubled Affordable Care Act.
READ: Democrats Take Cover
It was the latest in a series of embarrassing blows for the White House. But it remained symbolic. The Senate won't take up the bill and the White House threatened to veto it.
House Speaker John Boehner called the vote "a big, bipartisan statement about the need to make things right" regarding the hang-ups in the controversial law.
"The president broke his word, had a chance to fix the problem, and only did more damage to his credibility," Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote in a statement after the vote.
"The Keep Your Health Plan Act represents an important step toward providing relief to those who have lost their plans and face much higher premiums, but the real solution is to scrap the president's fundamentally flawed health care law and focus on effective, patient-centered reforms that will protect all Americans from this train wreck."
The president Thursday proposed a plan allowing Americans who are losing their coverage because of the Affordable Care Act to keep their plans for up to a year before being forced into coverage that meets the new standards.
But White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said, "This isn't about elections" when asked Thursday by ABC News whether Obama's plan gives enough political cover to Democrats running in 2014.
"This is about making sure people have affordable health care."
The White House Office of Management and Budget Thursday night threatened to veto Upton's bill. "The administration supports policies that allow people to keep the health plans that they have," it said.
"But, policies that reverse the progress made to extend quality, affordable coverage to millions of uninsured, hardworking, middle class families are not the solution. ... If the president were presented with H.R. 3350, he would veto it."
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Thursday argued that an administrative fix is the only feasible solution because House Republicans won't support any "constructive" measure regarding Obamacare.
But several senators are still likely to push for a vote on their own proposals, eager to show their constituents that they are trying to slow -- and fix -- Obamacare, their aides told ABC News.
Meanwhile, Obama was to huddle with insurance industry chiefs today.
"Today CEOs from across the health insurance industry will be meeting with President Obama and senior administration officials to discuss ways to work together to help people enroll through the marketplace and efforts to minimize disruption for consumers as they transition to new coverage," according to a White House official.