Under the threat of a presidential veto, House Republicans have voted to postpone implementation of Obamacare's individual and employer mandates.
The administration announced earlier this month that it was unilaterally postponing the enactment of the employer mandate by a year, a move most Republicans welcome but not without congressional authorization.
"I approve of the actual policy (of delay), but I don't approve of the fact that the president can do it without coming back to Congress," said Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., a longtime business owner. "So we're passing a law that would give that mandate credibility in that no one could ever challenge it. We passed this law; we can take it back."
Webster said the vote on the individual mandate is not an attempt to pile on the implementation difficulties, but it's actually a nod to the Obama's administration own argument during the health care debate that not implementing the mandates together would create major headaches.
"We were told by the administration that we had to have an all-inclusive, all-encompassing health policy, and every single element of that has to be in place in order for it to work," Webster said. "Now we're being told, yesterday in the Rules Committee by the person that came to testify against these bills, we don't really even need to have an employer mandate. It's not all that important, never was important."
"If you're going to get rid of the mandate, then get rid of it for both the business world and for the individual purchaser," he said.
Obama vows to veto the plan if it reaches his desk, citing the individual mandate as key to preserving popular options like keeping adult children on their parents' health plan to age 26 and making sure that Americans with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Webster said that argument has nothing to do with what the House is doing.
"That's bogus, because this does not repeal the fact that you can stay on your parents' policy until you're 26. It doesn't repeal the pre-existing condition part of that bill. It just repeals the mandate. That's all. So every part of his veto threat, the reasons he uses are bogus," he said.
Webster said businesses in his district are taking all sorts of measures to avoid penalties associated with the employer mandate, whenever it takes effect. He said some companies simply won't hire more workers so they don't meet the 50-employee threshold for falling under the mandate. He says some have gone even further, reducing hours of full-time workers down part-time status so the penalties don't apply.
The Senate is not expected to take up the mandate delays, much less approve them.