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Republicans committed to repealing PPACA, budget chief says

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(Bloomberg) — Republicans in Congress are committed to using their budget agreement to send President Barack Obama a bill repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA), House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price said.

“I think we are fine,” said Price, a Georgia Republican, regarding prospects that his chamber will pass the House and Senate budget agreement announced Wednesday. A House vote is set for Thursday afternoon in Washington.

The budget resolution would allow Republicans who control the House and Senate to go after PPACA, or “Obamacare.” They could use a process called reconciliation to send legislation repealing or revising Obamacare to the president without needing votes from Democrats.

See also: Republicans to mull use of budget maneuver to get bills to Obama

Obama has said repeatedly that he would veto a repeal of PPACA, which his administration said has extended coverage to 16.4 million previously uninsured Americans.

Price, at a Bloomberg Government breakfast, discussed the budget framework that sets Republican priorities by calling for $5.3 trillion in spending cuts to reach balance in nine years.

He sought to play down any sign of disputes within his own party on following the budget framework to shape the 12 annual spending bills due by Oct. 1.

“I’m not concerned about letting the Congress work its will. I think it’s exciting,” Price said.

The budget deal reached by the House and Senate is a non-binding framework for those spending bills. The Senate plans to take up the budget conference report next week.

Supreme Court

He said a decision on Republicans’ strategy for attempting to repeal Obamacare will await a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a lawsuit seeking to throw out most of the tax credits that underpin the Affordable Care Act.

“Reconciliation is a very powerful tool,” Price said, while adding, “It cannot be used for everything.”

How quickly Republicans will act on health care will depend on what the court says, whether it overturns the subsidies and whether existing contracts must stay in place, the lawmaker said. At a minimum, he said, congressional action could take place within four months of the court’s decision.

On spending bills, Price said he understands the concerns of some other lawmakers — including House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, a Republican from Kentucky — that the budget’s mandated spending limits may complicate passage of the 12 appropriations bills.

“There are real problems we have in financing and funding the federal government. Real problems in the amount we spend,” said Price. More lawmakers need to address the need to reduce spending on mandatory programs such as Medicare, he said.

Interest growing

“We have a huge national debt of $18 trillion and growing, and interest growing on the debt,” he said.

Some House Republicans and Democrats alike are opposing the use of a war-funding source known as the Overseas Contingency Operations account to pay for about $530 million in military construction projects.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, and some House Republicans say the overseas fund is being used as a slush fund for non-war related projects.

See also: Lawmakers demand PPACA answers