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Senate votes for first time to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood

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By Juliegrace BrufkeDC NEWS

The Senate passed a fast-track measure Thursday designed to unravel key ObamaCare provisions and defund Planned Parenthood for one year.

The bill passed 52-47, opposed by Democrats and Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders did not vote. The budgetary tool known as reconciliation prevented the possibility of a filibuster and only required 51 votes.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell struggled to gain the support needed to push the measure through, with conservatives arguing it didn’t go far enough to completely dismantle the Affordable Care Act and moderates expressing concern over the provision defunding Planned Parenthood.

Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Marco Rubio, who initial didn’t support the measure since it didn’t fully repeal the law,were swayed into supporting the measure, which passed 52-47.

“The vote we took today is a significant step towards repealing every word of Obamacare,” Cruz said in a statement following its passage. “This bill repeals as much of that failed law as we can under arcane Senate rules and the narrow guidelines of the budget.”

The legislation would repeal the individual and employer mandates, Cadillac tax, medical device tax, and eliminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board. It would also put an end to the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.

The House passed its version of the bill largely along party lines in October, and will need to pass a version compatible with the Senate legislation. If the reconciled legislation passes the lower chamber, it will be the first time Congress has successful sent a bill to dismantle the landmark heath-care legislation to the president’s desk.

President Obama reiterated his promise to veto the bill. Minority Leader Harry Reid said Republicans are “obsessed” with its repeal and need to stop “haranguing” over the issue.

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