WASHINGTON — The GOP-led Congress sent legislation to President Barack Obama on Wednesday repealing his signature health law, fulfilling a promise to Republican voters in a presidential election year but inviting a certain veto.
The nearly party-line vote in the House was 240-181. The legislation already passed the Senate last year under special rules protecting it from Democratic obstruction, so it goes straight to the White House.
Republicans boasted of a signal achievement, saying they were forcing Obama to face up to the failures of his law while illustrating stark political choices in an election year.
"We are confronting the president with the hard, honest truth," said Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. "Obamacare doesn't work."
Democrats called it pointless political theater that will have the same ultimate outcome as the 61 previous repeal votes that were blocked in the Senate, since Obama will veto the legislation.
"A bill that is going to the White House, that will get the fastest veto we've ever seen happen in this country, is a monumental vote?" said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. "This is just a waste of everyone's time."
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has decried the repeal legislation while leading GOP candidates applauded it. Ryan and other GOP leaders acknowledged it will take a Republican president to get rid of the law. But they said that is the point.
"It is our opportunity as Republicans to lay out the choice for the American people," said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California predicted that a Republican president will be in the White House next year and Congress will pass the repeal legislation again, "but we won't have to worry about a veto from the White House."
For maximum visibility Republican leaders made the legislation, which also cuts federal funding for Planned Parenthood, their first major vote of 2016. Although they don't command sufficient votes to override a presidential veto, they hope to schedule the override vote to coincide with the Jan. 22 March for Life in Washington commemorating the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
Yet Ryan hedged when asked whether the House will ever vote on a GOP replacement to Obamacare. Ryan has pledged that the House will come up with its own plan this year.