WASHINGTON (AP) — The House on Thursday backed a bill that would require the Obama administration to report weekly on how many Americans have signed up for health care coverage as Republicans maintain an election-year spotlight on the troubled law.
The vote was 259-154, with 33 Democrats breaking ranks and joining the GOP majority in supporting the legislation. It marked the second time in a week — and certainly not the last — that the House has targeted President Barack Obama's law, with Republicans confident that Americans' unease with the overhaul will produce major GOP wins in the November elections.
Some of the most vulnerable Democrats facing re-election this fall from Arizona, Georgia, New York and Florida voted for the bill. Last week, 67 Democrats bucked the administration and backed a bill to bolt new security requirements on the law.
The bill would require the administration to report weekly on the number of visits to the government health care website, the number of Americans who applied and the number of enrollees by ZIP code, as well as other statistics. It stands no chance in the Democratic-led Senate.
The administration has reported monthly on enrollment, announcing last week that 2.2 million signed up through the end of December and nearly 4 million had been deemed eligible for Medicaid.
Those reports are insufficient, Republicans argued.
"We know the president's health care law is driving up costs for middle-class families, making it harder for small businesses to hire, and hurting the economy - but there's still a lot we don't know," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, contending that the administration "hasn't provided a clear picture of where enrollment stands."
Democrats countered that the Republicans were adding onerous requests and disrupting administration efforts to sign up millions of Americans for health care coverage.
"This is just an attempt to pile on so many requirements on the administration," said Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., who pointed to recent administration reports. He said the data disclosed is consistent with what the government releases monthly on Medicare.