The Senate Votes to Begin Debate on Repealing Obamacare

By Jennifer Popik, J.D. Federal Legislative Director

This afternoon the Senate voted 51-50 in favor of a motion to proceed to begin debate on repealing major provisions of Obamacare. 50 Republicans voted in favor of the motion while all 50 Democrats along with Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted against.

In dramatic fashion, Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) unexpectedly returned to Washington, fresh on the heels of a surgery and cancer diagnosis. Additionally, Vice President Mike Pence was required to come to the floor to break the tie.

National Right to Life issued a scorecard advisory letter to the members of the Senate warning that it intended to include the roll call in our scorecard of key right-to-life roll calls of the 115th Congress. The letter can be found here.

The Senate now will begin debate and has the chance to protect life by moving away from multiple destructive abortion provisions of Obamacare. Heavy work lies ahead, with multiple substitutes and amendments forthcoming.

There will be an initial period of 20 hours of debate, followed by an open amendment process. If this effort fails, Obamacare remains, along with its abortion-expanding provisions.

NRLC vigorously opposed enactment of the Obamacare law in 2009-2010, because of its multiple provisions authorizing federal subsidies for abortion insurance, and multiple provisions allowing abortion-expansive federal mandates. According to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office in September 2014, approximately 1,000 federally subsidized health plans nationwide currently cover elective abortion.

Additionally, NRLC opposed the multiple provisions that will result in involuntary denial of life-saving medical treatment by placing unacceptable limits on the right of vulnerable Americans to use their own money, if they choose, to obtain both health care and health insurance less likely to deny needed health care.

In both of these areas, NRLC’s objections have been presented to Congress in great detail over the past seven years. For more details about the abortion-expanding provisions of Obamacare please see NRLC’s 2011 testimony in support of the Protect Life Act.

Please keep alert for information from National Right to Life on the various items expected to be debated including provisions related to federal funding of abortion and planned parenthood.

One item that will be considered contains a “State Stability and Innovation Program” which will bring many changes to both the private market and to plans eligible for tax credits. The “State Stability and Innovation Program” contains protections wherein plans that utilize these important dollars cannot cover elective abortion.

National Right to Life also strongly supports the language in the bill that would block, for one year, most federal payments to affiliates of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). It would close the largest pipeline for federal funding of Planned Parenthood – Medicaid – and apply as well to the CHIP and the Title V and Title XX block grant programs, thus covering roughly 89% of all federal funds to Planned Parenthood.

The amounts denied to Planned Parenthood, in effect, are reallocated to community health centers. Over one-third of all abortions in the U.S. are performed at PPFA-affiliated facilities.

NRLC urges the Senate to pass a bill with prolife protections now! Abortion is not healthcare and Obamacare, with its multiple provisions authorizing federal subsidies for abortion insurance and multiple provisions allowing abortion-expansive federal mandates, cannot continue to be the law of the land.