WASHINGTON — The House on Wednesday backed a one-year delay in the penalty that individuals would have to pay for failing to sign up for health insurance, the 50th time Republicans have forced a vote to repeal, gut or change the law championed by President Barack Obama.
The vote was 250-160, with 27 Democrats joining Republicans on legislation to postpone the individual mandate under the law. The measure stands no chance in the Democratic-led Senate and the White House has threatened a veto.
The vote was another example of the election-year political maneuvering on health care. Republicans remain convinced that public dissatisfaction with the law will cost Democrats in November’s contests, helping the GOP increase its majority in the House and possibly win back the Senate.
Some vulnerable Democrats in competitive races voted with the GOP, including lawmakers from Arizona, Georgia, Illinois and New Hampshire. Democratic Rep. Gary Peters, who is seeking Michigan’s open Senate seat, backed the bill.
During the House debate, Republicans argued that the breaks Obama has provided to businesses facing penalties under the law should apply to average Americans.
“If the president can delay the employer mandate, where’s the relief for everyone else?” asked Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan.
The debate came as the Obama administration granted a two-year extension for individual policies that don’t meet requirements of the new health care law, a delay that Republicans immediately seized upon to criticize the administration.
Republicans described a list of woes associated with the law — canceled policies, patients unable to stick with their doctors and more expensive premiums.
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