Opening Republican Salvo on Obamacare Draws Fire

The first congressional Republican attempt to weaken Obamacare with some Democratic support appeared to be headed for trouble with both parties on Tuesday, only days before an expected vote.

The bill, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, seeks to reduce the law’s burden on companies by requiring them to offer private health coverage to full-time employees who work 40 hours a week rather than the 30 hours stipulated by President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

But two days before an expected House vote, the legislation is already facing a conservative call to block its passage and a potential White House veto threat.

Companion legislation is due to be introduced in the Senate on Wednesday. It was not clear when a Senate vote might occur.

But congressional aides, lobbyists and analysts say the measure represents the opening salvo for a Republican strategy of chipping away at Obamacare by altering or repealing narrow segments of the law that are unpopular with Republicans and some Democrats. Those include taxes on medical devices and health insurers as well as penalties that await businesses and individuals who fail to comply with insurance requirements.

Republican aides say the aim is to produce “bipartisan” bills that Obama might sign into law.