Senate Budget Committee Republicans protected the possibility of a repeal to the Affordable Care Act in a vote Thursday from objections that it would increase the government’s budget deficit.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act would add $210 billion to the deficit, Huffington Post reports, based on the last estimate by the Congressional Budget Office.
The Republicans' budget resolution for 2016 includes reconciliation instructions that tell multiple congressional committees to develop methods to undo Obamacare. A reconciliation measure of this type only requires 51 votes to pass in the Senate.
There is also language in the spending plan that allows lawmakers to raise budget points of order against any legislation that would add more than $5 billion to the deficit—as a repeal of Obamacare would—and put a stop to it.
The resolution, however, exempts an attempt to repeal Obamacare from those points of order.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) wants the deficit rules to apply to Obamacare, and offered an amendment stating as much.
“What we have in this budget is a very interesting situation," Stabenow stated.
"We have a point of order in the budget for anything that adds to the deficit, but we have a section that specifically excludes the Affordable Care Act from that," Stabenow said. "So think about it. This budget is conceding the fact that the Affordable Care Act has reduced the deficit, and repealing the law would increase the deficit."
Another problem with the GOP budget Stabenow brought up is the fact that it counts the revenue that the Affordable Care Act is expected to raise, while at the same time instructing Congress to find a way to repeal it. If the Affordable Care Act were repealed, the projected revenue would not be collected.
"You can’t rig the rules on both sides," Stabenow said. "That’s not fair. I would argue that’s really budget gimmickry. I think it’s important if you are going to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, you have to step up and assume the consequences of that."
A repeal of the Affordable Care Act would require 60 Senate votes, and a two-thirds majority to override the likely presidential veto.
"I think that probably any repeal is probably going to take at least 60 votes, and probably 67 votes," Budget Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) said.
Democrats said putting an end to Obamacare would hurt the 16 million Americans who have gained insurance since 2010, reports The Washington Times.
Stabenow’s amendment was opposed by Republicans on a party-line vote, 12 to 10.
The budget was passed on the same count and the measure is expected to be on the Senate floor next week.