The Senate on Friday voted 54-44 along party lines to remove from its continuing resolution the House-passed language that would have defunded the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Following that key vote, the chamber voted 54-44 for final passage, sending the bill back to the House just three days before the fiscal year ends.
Other provisions added by the Senate would fund the government through Nov. 15, rather than the Dec. 15 date contained in the version the House passed last Friday.
“The Nov. 15 date keeps the pressure on to get the deal needed to cancel the sequester so Congress gets to work and enacts fiscally responsible appropriations bills that invest in Americans today and in America’s future,” said Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.
Earlier in the day, the Senate voted 79-19 to advance the legislation by invoking cloture to end the debate that has tied up the Senate all week.
Republicans devoted their floor time to attacking President Obama’s signature health care reform as a job-killer that the American people are rejecting. “This dog of a bill is the biggest fiasco that I have seen in my 37 years in Congress,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said he saw the vote to defund the law as a “chance for a do-over.”
Democrats decried the defunding effort as a “reckless political stunt” that risked a government shutdown. “The regular business of Congress has been replaced by political theater,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. “Those who want to give speeches don’t want to vote on anything real.”
The bill now goes to the House, where Republicans continue to address intraparty divisions over whether to continue their fight against Obamacare as part of the stopgap spending measure, or delay it until the debate over raising the debt ceiling.