Yesterday, House Republican Leadership allowed a bill to come to the floor of the House to expand the scope of an Obamacare program. The bill passed by a vote of 280-138—with 95 Republican votes.
The Veterinary Public Health Amendments Act (HR 525), introduced by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), would increase the number of veterinarians with public health training via federal subsidies. One of the bill’s provisions expands the Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Program—a loan program created in Obamacare (Title V, Section 5204)—to include veterinarians in the definition of eligible public health officials.
After Obamacare was enacted, Democrats recognized that the loan program would not cover veterinarians and so they passed legislation late last year to expand its scope. According to an alert sent out by the conservative Republican Study Committee:
In the last Congress, H.R. 2999 attempted to expand eligibility for this loan repayment program to veterinarian public health professionals. The bill passed by voice vote in the early morning hour (1AM) of September 30, 2010, shortly before Members were about to recess to campaign for the November election. The Senate did not act on the bill….
Now, H.R. 2999 has resurfaced this Congress. Its exact text is reflected in H.R. 525 that is scheduled for a vote on the floor….At a time when conservatives are looking for federal programs to terminate, many Members may not want to expand eligibility for a federal health loan forgiveness program to any specialty group, especially for a program that Obamacare ushered in.
Why did 95 Republicans feel the need to expand the scope of Obamacare, even if at the margins? Why did Republican Leadership schedule the bill for a floor vote in the first place? Why are Republicans continuing to vote for these bills that expand government instead of looking to cut it?