When Republicans assume control of the full Congress next week, they will act swiftly to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline and pass a pair of measures adjusting portions of Obamacare, Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Illinois, said Saturday in the weekly GOP address.
One measure targets the law's definition of a 30-hour workweek as full-time. Under Obamacare, any small or medium-sized business with more than 50 full-time employees must provide health coverage for those workers. Democrats say the provision encourages employers to do right by their workers and offer health coverage, but Republicans argue the restriction encourages bosses to cut employees' hours to keep their full-time staff under the threshold.
GOP leaders have vowed a push to change the definition of full-time work to 40 hours per week, and when the new Congress begins, they'll make good on that promise. When a similar bill passed the House last April, President Obama issued a veto threat, saying it would increase the deficit and leave too many without employer-provided health coverage.
The other measure, called the "Hire More Heroes Act," would exempt any post-9/11 veterans from being counted toward the law's 50-employee threshold.
"Despite receiving the best training in the world, post-9/11 veterans are consistently faced with higher unemployment rates than that of other veterans," Davis said. "As more and more of these men and women return home, the Hire More Heroes Act will give them a better chance in a still-tough job market."
Mr. Obama has not staked out a position on the measure, but Davis said he's holding out hope for cooperation from the White House.
"If the president is willing to work with us, we'll have a real chance to address our nation's most pressing challenges," he said.
In the White House's own weekly address Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden stood in for Mr. Obama, who is on vacation with his family in Hawaii. Biden urged Americans to continue signing up for health insurance through Obamacare's exchanges ahead of a Feb. 15 deadline to receive coverage in 2015.
"If you don't sign up by February 15th of this year -- with only a very few exceptions -- if you don't sign up by the 15th of this year, you're going to have to wait until 2016 to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act," Biden said.
The vice president said people can sign up online, over the phone or in person at community health centers and other local facilities. And he reminded Americans that many could qualify for subsidies to help them purchase insurance.
"An awful lot of people who didn't think they could or would find quality, affordable health insurance are actually able to get assistance from the government to help them pay for their health care plans at a cheaper rate," Biden said. "Let me give you an example. A family of four with an income of around $95,000, they can still get a subsidy to lower their health care premiums."