In a vote where Democratic leaders scrambled to minimize party defections, the House on Friday approved a Republican bill that would block the cancellation of insurance plans that don’t meet the Obamacare standards.
The Keep Your Health Plan bill passed 261 to 157, with 39 Democrats ending up joining most Republicans in approving the measure.
Senior House Democratic aides already conceded that dozens of Democrats would side with Republicans in favor of the measure. Many rank-and-file lawmakers have been feeling intense pressure to display some response to the troubled roll-out of the Affordable Care Act.
But even as they conceding some defections, one senior Democratic aide told National Journal before the vote that “more than 50 would be a nightmare” in terms of the political optics of having so many Democrats split from President Obama.
The administration on Thursday had even issued a veto threat against the bill.
To help give some of those Democrats another vote they could point to, Democrats tried but were defeated in a procedural move to offer a bill with elements of legislation sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., which would also address existing plans. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., described the Democratic alternative as “not a step to unravel” the Affordable Care Act, “but a step to improve it.”
On Thursday, Obama announced that he would allow insurers to continue offering individual plans for another year, even if they do not meet the minimum requirements under the Affordable Care Act.
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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he's accepting Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's offer to hold an immigration vote at a later date, "clearing the way for passage of a bill to reopen the federal government" today. "McConnell early Monday promised to take up an immigration bill that would protect an estimated 800,000 Dreamers from deportation, under an open amendment process, if Democrats would agree to end the government shutdown."
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The Senate on Sunday failed to reach agreement on a plan to fund the government through Feb. 8, postponing the vote until noon on Monday. "While lawmakers angled to score political points or shift blame, most agencies planned Monday to begin executing orderly shutdown procedures, per guidance from Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney."