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Obama vetoes bill to repeal signature health care law

US President Barack Obama speaks alongside US Vice President Joe Biden about the Supreme Court's ruling to uphold the subsidies that comprise the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, June 25, 2015.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- Protecting his signature domestic achievement, President Barack Obama on Friday vetoed legislation to repeal his health care law, saying the measure "would reverse the significant progress we have made in improving health care in America."

Republican lawmakers have pushed many repeal measures since 2010, when Obama signed the health care program into law. This was the first of those bills to clear Congress and reach his desk.

Republicans have argued that the law doesn't work and promised to override the veto next year.

"It's no surprise that someone named Obama vetoed a bill repealing Obamacare," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said in a video released Friday. "This law will collapse under its own weight or it will be repealed...Next year, if we're sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law. Obamacare will be gone."

In his veto message to Congress, Obama disagreed. Obama said the Affordable Care Act includes fairer rules and stronger consumer protections "that have made health care coverage more affordable, more attainable and more patient-centered. And it is working."

The veto was expected. But Republicans claimed victory with the vote, arguing that they met two goals by finally passing a repeal bill: keeping a promise to voters in an election year, and showing that they are capable of repealing the law if a Republican wins November's presidential election.

The bill would have ended the law's Medicaid expansion and subsidies and would eliminate the tax increases imposed under the law. The legislation would also cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

The Senate passed the measure last year under special rules that protected it from a Democratic filibuster, and the House passed it this week.