Bruce Poliquin, Maine’s freshman Republican congressman, bucked party consensus Tuesday with a vote against the repeal of Obamacare.
The bill passed in the House 239-186. As he has always done, Obama has pledged a veto if the bill manages to pass the Senate — something none of the dozens of previous House-approved attempts to defund, stall or repeal the health care law has managed to do.
Tuesday’s vote marked the first opportunity for the 47 freshmen GOP lawmakers to take their symbolic stand against President Barack Obama’s signature policy achievement.
Poliquin was one of just three GOP lawmakers to vote with Democrats against the bill.
The Oakland lawmaker has long been a critic of the Affordable Care Act. During his campaign for Senate in 2012, he supported the law’s repeal. But more recently, he’s offered a more measured response, calling for reforms to the program while recognizing it as the “law of the land.”
Poliquin opposed the specific bill on deck today — HR 596 by U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama — because it would repeal the health care law immediately, but not require lawmakers to replace it for several months.
It’s the kind of bill he could have supported before many of Obamacare’s provisions took effect, Poliquin said Tuesday. But now, it’s a harder sell.
“Had Congress voted for the full repeal of Obamacare two years ago, families and small businesses would have been able to adjust to the change,” Poliquin said in a written statement. “However, more than 60,000 Mainers have invested their time and energy in choosing health care plans that work for their families.”
The congressman said that if the ACA is going to be repealed, there must be a “free-market alternative” to take its place immediately.
Poliquin joined Rep. Chellie Pingree, Maine’s Democratic congresswoman from the 1st District, who has opposed efforts to weaken the health care law.
The only other Republican congressmen to oppose the bill were Rep. John Katko, R-New York, and Rep. Robert Dold, R-Illinois.