International: House votes to repeal Obamacare; now on to Senate

Thursday, May 4, 2017 - 13:45

President Donald Trump scored his first big legislative victory on Thursday as the House of Representatives voted to replace Obamacare, in an important step towards achieving one of the Republican party’s top goals since Barack Obama passed his signature healthcare measure seven years ago.

House lawmakers voted 217-213 to pass the Republican healthcare measure. While the bill now moves to the GOP-controlled Senate where it faces obstacles, the vote is a victory for Mr Trump who had ended his first 100 days in office with no big legislation.

Republicans hailed the vote as a significant step towards scrapping Obamacare, which was one of the top issues for core Republican voters in the 2016 general election. But Democrats, who label the measure “Trumpcare”, said the new bill would raise premiums and force millions of Americans to lose health insurance.

“Trumpcare is a billionaire’s tax cut disguised as a healthcare bill,” said Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House. “It is Robin Hood in reverse.”

Ms Pelosi said the measure was worse than the bill that the Republicans attempted, to pass in March, whose failure was a humiliating defeat for Mr Trump on Capitol Hill. “Now it has come back to life like a zombie even more scary than before.”

Democrats also claim that the Republican move will end up making it more likely that the GOP loses seats in the 2018 midterm congressional elections. “Any Republican who votes for this bill is painting a big bullseye on his back,” said Brendan Boyle, a Democratic congressman from Philadelphia. “The TV ads write themselves. This is a significant enough vote that [it] could jeopardise GOP control of the House.”

The victory comes after three months of roller-coaster efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the official name of Obamacare.