The House is expected to re-approve a reconciliation bill that guts the ACA and cuts Planned Parenthood funding this week. The Senate redesigned an earlier House version in an effort to attract enough Republican Senators. The bill passed the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 52 to 47. Two Republican Senators (Kirk R-IL, and Collins R-ME) voted no due to the Planned Parenthood cuts. All Democrats voted no with Independent Bernie Sanders not present for the vote. The legislation is a political message bill that will certainly be vetoed by President Obama but it could in fact lay the procedure groundwork for a future repeal if a future Republican President and Congress seek its repeal it in 2017. Due to the fact that a total repeal would increase the deficit such a bill would violate the rules of reconciliation. In addition, some of the original provisions in the House bill violated the Senate’s Byrd Rule (former-senator Robert Byrd (D-WV)) which requires provisions in the reconciliation to be relevant to deficit reduction. In that sense the way this bill went about repealing the ACA could set up a clear parliamentary path and precedent for future action. The Senate bill added a repeal of the Medicaid expansion that is taking place in 30 states; it also repealed the tax credits/subsidies for purchase of insurance and eliminated the individual and business mandates to have health insurance.
The reconciliation process was established in the 1970s as a way to reduce long-term mandatory and entitlement spending and to reduce the deficit. Over the years it has become a beneficial tool for congressional leadership in that it bypasses the Senate filibuster and sets specific time limits on debates. The President is certain to veto the legislation because it repeals the ACA (Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) and defunds Planned Parenthood (SAP on defunding Planned Parenthood). This will be the fourth time a reconciliation bill is vetoed by a President. President Bill Clinton vetoed a 1995 welfare reform reconciliation and in 1999 and 2000 reconciliation bills that cut taxes.