House Democrats passed a rule Thursday to have the chamber’s counsel defend Obamacare in a legal case seeking to undo it.
The rule was part of a larger package that was approved in a 234-197 vote. The resolution, called the Restoring Congress For The People Resolution, paves the way to authorize the House counsel to defend the lawsuit on behalf of the House. A formal vote is expected next week.
The action was one of the first orders of business for Democrats in the House as they took power on Thursday. Their goal was to put the spotlight on Republicans who ran campaigns telling voters they were devoted to keeping in place Obamacare’s protections on pre-existing illnesses. They plan to argue that votes rejecting the resolution demonstrate Republicans aren’t really committed to the promises they made.
The Obamacare rules obligate insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer or diabetes, at the same price as they cover healthier people. The law also mandates a range of medical coverage and guarantees for which sicker patients cannot be refused coverage. The provision is one of Obamacare’s most popular among voters, even though it has contributed to higher premiums for certain enrollees.
A federal judge issued a ruling in December that not only would undo rules on pre-existing conditions, but the rest of Obamacare as well. The ruling is being stayed until it is appealed. While experts from both political persuasions have said they do not expect it will ultimately succeed, Democrats have signaled they intend to continue using the case as political ammunition.