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Obama uses eighth veto to reject GOP lawmakers' attempt to scrap Affordable Care Act

"It has earned my veto," Obama said of the bill aimed at repealing his signature health law.
By Ed Adamczyk and Doug G. Ware   |   Updated Jan. 8, 2016 at 7:33 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- For the first and possibly last time as president, Barack Obama on Friday officially rejected an attempt by congressional Republicans to scrap much of his signature health care law and strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding -- by breaking out a veto everyone knew was coming.

Obama dismissed the legislative package Friday that proposed repealing much of the U.S. Affordable Care Act, which currently provides health coverage for millions of Americans who would otherwise be uninsured.

"Because of the harm this bill would cause to the health and financial security of millions of Americans, it has earned my veto," Obama wrote in a message to the House, criticizing GOP lawmakers for effectively wasting their time on a bill they knew would not and could not be implemented.

"Rather than re-fighting old political battles by once again voting to repeal basic protections that provide security for the middle class, members of Congress should be working together to grow the economy, strengthen middle-class families, and create new jobs," Obama said, noting that Republicans have unsuccessfully tried to kill his healthcare law more than 50 times.

Obama's veto Friday was the eighth of his presidency and the sixth since Republicans took over control of the House and Senate last year.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Friday the House would attempt to override Obama's veto, even though most analysts agree the chamber does not have the requisite two-thirds majority to do it.

"It's no surprise that someone named Obama vetoed a bill repealing 'Obamacare.' But we will hold a vote to override this veto, taking this process all the way to the end under the Constitution," he said in a statement Friday.

Ryan signed H.R. 3762, called the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, on Thursday and sent it on to the president's desk.

The legislation passed by a vote of 240-181 in the House, mostly along partisan lines. Just one Democrat, Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., voted for the bill and three Republicans -- New York Reps. Richard Hanna and John Katko and Illinois Rep. Robert Dold -- voted against it. Thirteen representatives did not vote at all.

The bill was the first ACA challenge to make it to the president's desk.

Ryan said the aggressive bill is a glimpse of what will happen if the Republican Party wins the White House in the November election. All GOP presidential candidates favor repealing the law.

"We have now shown that there is a clear path to repealing Obamacare without 60 votes in the Senate," the House speaker said. "So, next year, if we're sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law."

The White House said earlier this year that more than 17 million U.S. citizens have attained health coverage under the law in the last two years.

Obama also defended Planned Parenthood Friday, which has taken a political beating over the last six months from accusations and a series of videos created by anti-abortion activists that claim the organization sold fetal tissue.

Planned Parenthood executives and Democratic lawmakers have dismissed the accusations as well as the videos, which they say are edited.

In October, agency president Cecile Richards announced Planned Parenthood would stop accepting "reimbursement" for fetal tissue donations -- not because the organization was guilty of wrongdoing, but rather as a means to disarm activists.

"We are taking their smokescreen away," she said on Oct. 13.

"[The House bill] would limit access to healthcare for men, women, and families across the Nation, and would disproportionately impact low-income individuals," Obama added.

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