Congressional Republicans inched closer toward repealing Obamacare early Saturday morning when the Senate passed its version of tax reform.
Included in the Senate's bill was a provision that eliminates Obamacare's infamous individual mandate. The mandate forces every American to have health insurance, and if they don't, it levies an annual penalty, or as the Supreme Court ruled, a "tax" to be paid to the IRS.
The provision has been widely unpopular since the bill's passage in 2010. However, its removal signals a real possibility that Congress might begin dismantling former President Barack Obama's signature achievement. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) hailed the accomplishment after its passage, according to The Hill:
Families ought to be able to make decisions about what they want to buy and what works for them –not the government.
I believe if people don’t want to buy the Obamacare insurance, they shouldn’t have to pay a tax penalty to the IRS.
However, some have warned that simply repealing the mandate without addressing the law's mandated coverage for pre-existing conditions will make the health care situation even worse, since the two provisions work in tandem.
The Senate's accomplishment, which paves the way for Trump's first major legislative achievement, still has a ways to go before Republicans can declare victory. That's because the House has already passed their own version of tax reform, meaning the two bills will have to be reconciled in committee before they can be sent to Trump's desk.
As far as the individual mandate repeal goes, the House's bill didn't include it. But chances are, House Republicans will approve it.
No Democrats supported either bill, but Trump said on social media early Saturday that he expects to sign a final bill before Christmas.
We are one step closer to delivering MASSIVE tax cuts for working families across America. Special thanks to @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell and Chairman @SenOrrinHatch for shepherding our bill through the Senate. Look forward to signing a final bill before Christmas! pic.twitter.com/gmWTny3SfS— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017